Last Updated on August 15, 2022 by Alexander Burgemeester
The narcissist can’t seem to get the hint that I don’t want anything to do with them! They’ve reached everyone- my friends, my family, and even my boss! All the lies- they claimed I abused them, stole money from them, and otherwise ruined their life. Everything is a lie, but they don’t see it that way. What can I do?
Does this inner dialogue sound familiar? Does it seem like the narcissist in your life doesn’t just twist your words- but they also downright lie and discredit you as a person?
Maybe they act one way in front of you, but you feel convinced they’re doing something else behind your back.
Perhaps, you’ve noticed that your loved ones have started acting differently towards you- although you can’t quite identify why.
But when you attempt to draw attention to the changes, the narcissist insists everything is fine- you’re just imagining things!
If you’re feeling these feelings, they aren’t random. Your narcissist might be smearing you.
Smear campaigns by narcissists often feel demoralizing and exhaustive for the victim. It may seem like things will never get better, as you will always be stuck with their manipulative tactics.
Let’s get into what you need to know and how to deal with the Narcissist smear campaign.
What Is a Narcissist Smear Campaign?
By definition, smear campaigns refer to carefully crafted plans designed to humiliate you and tarnish your reputation.
To the narcissist, the purpose of the Narcissist’s smear campaign is to bring you down while simultaneously lifting their ego.
It should be noted that not every narcissist engages in a smear campaign.
Some opt to move right into a silent treatment stance. However, if you recently ended a relationship with a narcissist, you should be aware of the likelihood of smearing to happen.
Smearing comes in many different flavors, and it can level in severity. In mild forms, it might be passive-aggressive comments about you behind your back.
Smearing can include dangerous rumors, threats, and lawsuits in severe conditions.
Smear campaigns typically include the following elements:
Some grain of truth
You left them! You broke their heart! You don’t love them! To some extent, these statements may be true.
The narcissist often magnifies a single shard of the truth to create an entire narrative about your wrongdoings.
A complete attack of your personality
Narcissists will talk excessively about every mistake you’ve ever made.
Some of these stories may be true, but most of them are embellished and falsified to fit their vision of what’s true.
Most narcissists don’t believe they are outwardly lying. Instead, their beliefs make so much sense to them that they don’t recognize them as complete lies.
The bid for empathy
Narcissists want others to believe that they are the victims in the dynamic.
They want people to think that you caused the problems and hurt them instead of vice versa.
They obtain empathy by spreading lies and rumors about you while portraying themselves as martyrs.
Narcissists can hold grudges for lifetimes. There are no expiration dates for their feelings of anger or injustice.
Once they believe you are the enemy, you will remain that way in their minds.
Why Does a Narcissist Do a Smear Campaign?
Make no mistake about it-smearing is meant to hurt you. The narcissist feels vulnerable or rejected, so they engage in this campaign to restore a sense of power.
If you ended the relationship, you made them look bad. As a result, they will attempt to punish you for this decision.
Sometimes, narcissists also start recognizing that you’re “onto them.”
When this happens, they will try to smear your name so others won’t believe you if you decide to come forward.
Smearing helps narcissists feel supported- when they can gain empathy and trust from other people, they obtain more control and become the hero once again.
In its simplest form, these efforts offer damage control.
Narcissists cannot assume responsibility for making mistakes. They believe they are superior to other people, and they feel justified in their smearing campaign.
To them, it’s simply a matter of “sharing useful information” to people who might need it. In their minds, they are doing the world a favor by protecting them from you.
What Are Common Smear Campaign Examples?
When dealing with a narcissist, it’s important to remember that they often engage in various manipulative tactics to satisfy their needs.
At times, you may not even recognize such tactics as cruel. This doesn’t mean you are ignorant or unintelligent.
It just means that the narcissist knows your blindspots and has learned to exploit them. Likewise, if you’re no longer together, you may not be aware of the smearing.
Narcissists recognize that family members may be the hardest people to manipulate.
After all, they might be protective, supportive, and unconditionally loving towards you. Therefore, smearing tends to be far more insidious.
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First, the narcissist often smears the family to the partner first- and this may happen years before you end the relationship. The comments may be along the lines of:
- “Your family doesn’t want to see you happy.”
- “Your family is so dysfunctional! Can’t you see?”
- “Your family has never wanted you to be independent.”
Narcissists use these statements to challenge how you perceive your family.
These mental gymnastics are an attempt to increase tension. They want you to feel less trusting and compassionate towards your loved ones- this distancing allows you to be more dependent on them.
Once they start smearing you, they often run to your family first. They may use comments like:
- “I always loved you guys. I don’t know why he never wanted us to visit!”
- “It’s breaking my heart, but I can’t keep going on like this. She’s become so abusive towards me, and I don’t see it getting any better.”
- “I hope you know that I’ve tried to make things better, but his mind seems to be made up. He doesn’t want to give us a chance. My heart breaks for the children.”
Narcissists often attempt to test your friends’ loyalty by making cruel comments about you. They may start subtly with comments like,
“I’m worried about her drinking. It keeps getting worse and worse,” or “It was quite challenging to trust her- she was always flirting with that one coworker. It was so hard for me.”
They may also double-down their efforts with dangerous lies like,
“ I swear, I shouldn’t be telling you this, but he sometimes hit the kids when he got really upset. I was always worried he would try to attack me, too!”
These comments are intended to elicit both shock and empathy. The narcissist’s overarching goal is to turn your friends against you.
With Your Work
Your employment can be incredibly threatening to the narcissist. Your job provides a sense of freedom and independence- a narcissist can’t necessarily influence you, your boss, or your coworkers- until they do.
Narcissists will often drop subtle comments to question your employment. These may include:
- “Wow, I can’t believe they asked you to do that. Seems like that’s putting a lot on your plate.”
- “Your boss is unreasonable. That’s completely unfair.”
- “You deserve to be treated better. I wish you could find a job that respected your amazing skills!”
These gaslighting comments will often make you question your reality.
Even if some of the statements have an element of truth, the narcissist often exaggerates the context. As a result, it can leave you with feelings of tension and distrust towards your employer.
At times, the narcissist may also subconsciously sabotage your work performance. They may do this by:
- Keeping you up late at night so you feel tired before an important meeting.
- Booking many spontaneous vacations that result in you needing to take time off (even if you don’t have accrued vacation time).
- Feigning regular illness and convincing you to stay home to take care of them.
- Buying lavish items to “prove” how much money you have (to convince you that you don’t need to work).
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Many narcissists try to smear their victims by abusing the court system. They might threaten lawsuits to intimidate or scare you.
If you’re going through a divorce, they might overwhelm you with excessive paperwork, swiftly changing agreements, adding on new demands, and attempting to manipulate lawyers and judges.
Narcissists will often highlight any weakness you have to turn people away from you.
For example, if you have a mental health condition or medical issue, they will exaggerate the symptoms to prove how unstable, unhealthy, or unfit you are.
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With Future Partners
Sometimes, narcissists will engage in smear campaign tactics for several years after the relationship has ended.
If they catch wind that you have a new partner, they may continue with the gossip and slander.
At times, they may reach out to the person directly with comments like:
- “Hey man, I know this is weird, but I wouldn’t be able to sleep well at night if I didn’t tell you that she ______ to me.”
- “I just wanted to let you know that he cheated on me. It broke my heart. I hope things are better for you, but I wanted to give you a heads-up.”
- “Did you know what she struggles with _____? I hope she’s been working on it, but it ruined our marriage.”
How to Respond To Smear Campaigns?
How do you counter a narcissist smear campaign? First, you must recognize that you can’t win this campaign. If anything, narcissists look forward to your rebuttal.
It gives them ammunition- it offers attention, which they can use to continue building their case against you.
When you respond, you’re still playing their game and abiding by their rules. Therefore, the system remains rigged against you.
Like with most narcissistic dynamics, the best response is no response. Although this is much easier said than done, doing nothing tends to be the most effective strategy.
In other words, don’t engage. Don’t fight back. Don’t try to convince the narcissist that they are wrong or that they are hurting you.
Dealing With Other People
At times, your loved ones may side with the narcissist. This, of course, can hurt tremendously.
You may feel an immense urge to share your side of the story. You might also want to engage in your own smear campaign against the narcissist.
Unfortunately, these tactics don’t usually work. People often see what they want to see- if the narcissist has convinced them of their truth, they will usually believe it.
Additionally, you already know that the narcissist can be incredibly charming and convincing.
They know how to captivate an audience by faking emotion and creating a powerful story.
If people inquire about your opinion, it’s best to remain neutral, objective, and even-keeled.
Remember that these people may run to the narcissist with anything you tell them- and the narcissist may use this information to continue harming you.
You can try the following statements:
- “My story is different from theirs, and I’m going to leave it at that.”
- “I appreciate your concern, but I’m not at liberty to discuss this right now.”
- “At the moment, I don’t feel the need to defend myself.”
Save Any Evidence
If you have any proof of documented lies, make sure to save copies. Documentation may include text messages, social media posts, voicemails, etc.
This evidence may help you if you need legal representation against the narcissist.
Final Thoughts: How to Recover From a Smear Campaign?
Being the victim of a smear campaign can feel painful, frightening, and confusing.
You might toggle through intense feelings of anger, sadness, and even some denial about their disturbing behavior.
Allow yourself to feel your emotions. Consider reaching out for professional support if you need help processing them.
Therapy provides a safe and nonjudgmental space for you to discuss your relationship and learn appropriate coping skills for recovering from your pain.
Healing is possible, although it may take some time. Remember to stand in your truth- you know who you are.
The narcissist may do everything they can to try to convince you otherwise.
But the more you choose to honor your worth, the less power they will have over you.
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6 thoughts on “How to Deal With the Narcissist Smear Campaign?”
I finally realized that narcissistic abuse syndrome looks a lot like actual narcisism to the average victim… Only once you’ve been compleatly abused can you tell the difference. At that point what does it even matter… Not everything that walks like a duck, and talks like a duck is a duck… If a chicken were raised by ducks it would try to swim… I don’t even see the point in trying to heal anymore… the more I try to heal the more I focus on myself… which is exactly what a narcissist does… except the reasons are different… trying to heal is way different than trying to remain in the spotlight, just to get attention… but the narcissists insist that this is the same thing… and the other victims get scared by it… Yet the other victims pretend they are all fine which is also what narcissists do… I’m begining to think there is no way to heal without walking away from not only the narcissists, but also their other victims… How would I know who is worth helping to escape? Would they even know that I’m not trying to manipulate, or would I just be another person with an agenda? Ughhhhhhh
I get it. You get to the point that you look in the mirror and don’t recognize who is starting to look back. But healing is not narcissistic and it’s not the same thing as being one. I think that you first have to heal what it is within you that was attracted to the narc. With me it was being a very sensitive girl with a narc mom. That dynamic conditioned me to look at red flags as signs of love and affection. By acknowledging that maybe if all my ex’s,no matter how they looked on the outside, was basically the same wolf in drag. The common denominator was me… Not that I or most assuredly, you, deserved being gaslit,love bombed,lied to,smeared and/or hurt physically. But acknowledging you probably weren’t the picture of mental health to begin with? And maybe you allowed boundaries to be crossed or can remember that time a tried and true person tried to warn you but was brutally rebuffed…. it wasn’t like you didn’t make your mistakes… But When you open your self up to serious, painful introspection and ask, “what was my part? What can I do differently now? You are proving you are nothing like your abuser. Because one thing is true across the board.. narcs don’t ever take an honest introspection. They don’t change. Deep inside they are damaged, scared, insecure bullies and to pick at that bad patch job even a little… Shows the ruin underneath. You deserve to heal and grow and be better. If that’s selfish then it’s the best kind. It’s the kind that helps end generational trauma and cycles. It’s the kind that makes you a better parent or friend. I know what happened to you.. it changed you. Hell, PTSD is many times gained from surviving war. You have to adapt to survive sometimes. Mourn the loss of who you were. And get to know who you are so that you can decide who you will be. I know for myself, I can be prickly and emotionaly unregulated and petty as hell. But I still don’t hurt people purposely. I don’t like the idea of ruining someones day let alone life. The fact that you ask yourself those critical questions, proves you aren’t a narcissist. You don’t want to have an agenda that uses people as Canon foder. You don’t want to become what hurt you. Just keep asking yourself questions and answering the really uncomfortable ones. Join a support group because I’m telling you, when you hear what you thought was just your hellish experience, flowing from people from different races, religions and walks of life..it feels weirdly exhilarating. Your not alone, you don’t have to do it alone. You deserve to be heard. You deserve to be understood. Your not a narcissist because while we may borrow some camo paint from the narcs kit so we can blend and survive…it washes away. You survived. Some don’t. Think of a time before information about this type of predator had to be gained via therapy with a therapist who actually understood narc abuse or expensive college course?!Some gave up because they thought they were crazy and no one talked openly about these poop stains. So,whatever you had to do to make it to the other side? You made it. You earned those scars. To quote Ms. Celie from the color purple. “I may be poor and I may be ugly but I’m here! damnit I’m here “
It is funny how a Narcissist will make your negative reaction to their poor behavior as the problem. They will lie, and deny everything, then label you as holding a grudge because you don’t believe them. This is when it is time to step away from this toxic behavior. It is a losing proposition designed to make your anger work for them.
I was targeted by a friend who premeditated the whole thing for 30 years. After 2 decades of total destruction of my family, friends I look like the narcissist. I have gone back to the past to find comfort if I can in people I have not talked to in decades. I have been lost and lonely and yes, I want connection with others. But this narcissist has worked so well, colluded so well that its me who appears to be the narcissist. I had a family member contact me. I lashed out, because of their participation and withholding family members that I love from me. They all participated in a smear campaign against me. They involved police and organized crime. When I move they follow, and the get police involved. I’m supposedly the stalker and the threat but I’m the one who moves to be away from them. I used to have lots of friends. I did a lot for many people. It seems my whole life and world were a lie. The direct targetting began after I came forward about sexual abuse in childhood. I sued. A family member of the person accused who did do the abuse is a cop. The family sent a threat through my lawyers. They wanted/want to discredit me. There is no stopping them. I won’t recant because the truth is what it is and I am not going to add to the lies in my life. Nothing will change the truth or my pain. They took my file from therapy (bought it from someone) and put it online with alterations on it to make people believe I am insane. This travelled all over the internet. I can’t begin to tell and warn people of the combination of organized crime, police and the angry families related to pedophiles and family members who cannot take responsibility for their own actions and abuses to their children that they need to deflect onto others. No one is perfect. But I at least owned my adult crimes and gave apologies. I don’t smear anyone , yet I could. But what’s important to me, is that everyone own their own and stop trying to deflect to others in order to cover their wrongs. Everyone move on if they can’t get along. There is no amount of harassment that will change the truth or the past.
Hang in there. I’ve had to basically cut ties with all my family. I lost friends I had cared for for years… Looking back it is actually breathtaking how they start to set things up so far in advance. I can reach out to let’s say… My kids new teacher ,about making sure there are two separate take home folders for my child and that gets twisted into me badgering that teacher for unnecessary paperwork. or I’m being dramatic when I call out blatant favoritism shown by the office secretary for our child’s pediatrician (refusing to finalize an appointment I try to make unless they call to check in with my narc abuser first.We have joint custody. No one calls me to even remind me of an appointment or tell me one was cancelled,right after I made it by my ex. In custody court he had relapsed on drugs and called the police on himself because he hallucinated that people were hiding in his trees (true story) The police had to chase him across the neighborhood and found him under his porch. Yet , the judge practically wiped his nose, ordered more outpatient therapy that he never got around to taking and only punished him with the loss of two overnight visits. That had been me? I would have been busted down to one supervised visit a week. But he has family that are still well respected in a part of the state they used to practically own and run. The town football field is named after his grandfather who died in WW2. Despite his history of being a drug dealing, drug using, fboy who peaked in high school when he was in the basketball team and crowned homecoming king. I mean he went on to amase a list of Felonies but, “look at all he over came,”! If you mean a mom refusing to yank the silver spoon out while sucking the life out of his father. His dad had actually tried to warn me from him once when my hag in law was off out of state for a job and he actually gained a spark of life until his wife ordered him to let their narc son, who robbed them blind to pay for his drugs, move back in. And to kiss off retirement because they had to shovel their retirement into a custody attorneys pockets .I thought it was because I grew up poor and biracial and they didn’t think I was good enough (well I’m sure his mom did and still thinks that since she only acknowledged our child because she could pass with blonde hair and blue eyes) but he had genuinely been warning me. Money makes a difference. People say, oh Kansas is a mom state… It’s a state run by rich old republican good old boys so… The hell it is. You really think judge Biff is going to listen to evidence presented by the high yellow jezebel girl or to his golfing buddies client? Whom happens to br, “a Butler county Sc*****ir? We push on past the unfair , unbalanced crap that most people don’t understand really happens. I still hope someday I meet my tribe. The family I get to choose. I wish that for you as well. I believe you. You aren’t crazy. You aren’t a narcissist (because a true narc would have cut and run the minute they realized what the public image was) Narcs don’t stick around to be called out. If you were a narc, sadly you would be believed and supported by all. Don’t give up. Darkness can’t hide when the light is turned on and what was hidden can be seen. The worse they get, the more scared they are. One of my fav quotes for you.. “They broke your wings but forgot you also had claws.”
I made the huge mistake of calling out a narcissistic friend by saying she was always gossiping and seeing the worst in every one. We had a huge group of friends among which, of course, the narcissist reigned. One by one my so called friends began to desert me. I can only but relate it to a fine, subtle smearing campaign. I had just a tiny glimpses here and there of what she might been doing. Someone told me that someone said that she said I quitted my friendships after I got a boyfriend, what is a lie, and everybody should know better, but people seems so eager to trust the narcissist, no matter what. I´m trying to make new friends outside this bubble, but I´m still so sorry for the ones I miss and at same time, a feel angry with them for being so easily manipulated.