The narcissist has hurt you so many times.
Maybe they’ve gaslighted you or smeared you or completely destroyed your self-esteem. And somehow, they continue to get away with their awful behavior.
Even when things seem to be getting better, you may feel like you’re walking on eggshells. It’s like they can change their mood or behavior at any given moment, and you always feel like your five steps behind them.
Either way, you want revenge. You want them to feel some of the pain you’ve endured. They’ve made you feel miserable, and now you want them to feel miserable in return.
But is your desire to seek revenge on the narcissist smart? Moreover, is it even possible? Let’s take a look at what hurts a narcissist and why it’s not advised to seek revenge.
Why Do You Want Revenge?
It’s essential to do some self-reflection when you want to hurt the narcissist. What’s going on within you? Do you feel trapped or alone in your struggles? Does it seem like things aren’t ever going to get better?
Take some time to think about your intentions. It’s normal for us to seek revenge when we feel helpless, powerless, or otherwise unsure about how to proceed. It’s also normal to want to hurt people who have hurt us.
Nobody likes feeling like they’re being played. We tend to seek revenge because we think it will give us a sense of justice. We also believe it might help us heal from the pain we’ve endured.
That said, it’s important to remember that revenge has limited benefits. Research suggests that getting even feels rewarding for the first few moments. However, after that reward quickly fades, your left feeling more aggravated and resentful. Then, you may even turn towards punishing yourself because you felt guilty for seeking revenge.
What Hurts a Narcissist?
Although it may seem surprising, narcissists are incredibly sensitive. They have fragile egos, and they spend a great deal of time and energy protecting those egos.
But people rarely see their insecurities because narcissists expel so much energy acting like they’re better than everyone else. They mask their inferiority by trying to convince everyone how fantastic they really are.
It’s not a secret that narcissists love attention. Therefore, any lack of attention can be detrimental to their well-being. So what hurts them?
Being Publicly Humiliated
Humiliation is one of the greatest antidotes to narcissistic behavior. Narcissists hate feeling embarrassed. Nothing can be more shameful than when other people recognize their fraudulent intentions.
But narcissists don’t accept negative feedback. Instead, they often:
- Turn against other people in an attempt to humiliate them.
- Blame other people or situations for their incompetence or stupidity.
- Convince others that they are the victims of their circumstances.
- Defend their behavior mercilessly (no matter how ridiculous it may seem).
Narcissists can’t understand why anyone would reject them. Rejection hurts, but instead of looking inward, they tend to lash out at others. A narcissist may react to rejection by:
- Trying to rally other people into rejecting the other person.
- Spending excess time and energy trying to make the other person feel miserable
- Pretending the rejection didn’t happen at all
- Bombarding the other person with reasons why they need to reconsider the rejection
- Excessively defending their actions
Loss of Control
Narcissists feel the need to control almost every situation. Control makes them feel safe- it’s what gives them power and authority over their lives (and the lives of others).
When they feel like they’re losing control, they often:
- Engage in whatever tactics they can to restore control.
- Blame other people for causing them distress or turmoil.
- Convince others they are victims of unfair circumstances.
- Become physically violent to maintain a sense of power.
- Use threats or other hostile language to get what they want.
It’s no secret that narcissists hate losing. Losing means that someone or something might be better than them, and this reality often seems completely unacceptable.
When a narcissist loses, they might react in many extreme ways, including:
- Blaming the other person or an external situation for unfair circumstances.
- Pretending as if they are still the winner.
- Convincing other people that the “judge” or situation was incompetent or unjust.
- Excessively shaming the winner or the other bystanders.
Someone Else’s Emotions
Narcissists focus on themselves. Other emotions are nuances. They are distractions, and they get in the way of them getting what they want. When faced with someone else’s emotions, narcissists often react by:
- Telling you that you’re overreacting.
- Explaining how you should feel instead.
- Convincing you that nobody else cares about what you’re experiencing.
- Finding a reason to insult or criticize you for how you’re feeling.
You might consider engaging in one of these tactics if you want to seek revenge. Since you know they effectively hurt the narcissist, they feel tempting. Let’s get into why this mindset is rarely effective.
Why Does Seeking Revenge Only Tend to Make Things Worse?
When you’re reactive to a narcissist, the narcissist notices your intentions. They see that they’ve elicited a strong response from you, which tends to cause more problems.
You May Put Yourself in Danger
Angry narcissists can become extremely impulsive and even violent. When they don’t get their way, they tend to do whatever it takes to restore their power.
Unfortunately, narcissists also do a great job of convincing other people that they’re wonderful. Therefore, you run the risk of nobody believing you if they hurt you.
They May Dish It Back Ten Times Harder
You might think that mocking, laughing, or insulting them can poke holes in their seemingly flawless system. However, narcissists are unable to take and reconcile feedback. Instead, they will likely double down on their efforts to hurt you back.
In doing this, they may dig up every single issue they have with you (and they may make some up!). The goal here is ruthless: you attempted to hurt them, and they are going to make you pay for it.
You Will Feel the Guilt They Never Feel
Narcissists lack empathy and attention for others. They don’t understand how their actions impact other people. Subsequently, when they hurt you, they don’t truly realize that it hurts!
Even though seeking revenge may feel good for a moment, you may experience extreme guilt, shame, and self-loathing afterward. These feelings are good- they signify that you aren’t narcissistic or sociopath yourself! But it makes seeking revenge a relatively pointless endeavor.
They Will Still Act Like the Victim
If you do seek revenge (and it works), the narcissist won’t reflect on how they should change their behavior. Instead, the new story will be rooted in how awful and evil you are.
For example, let’s say you’re in a romantic relationship with a narcissist, and you leave them for someone else. This may undoubtedly hurt the narcissist, but they won’t reveal their pain. Instead, they’ll tell the world about how you couldn’t be trusted or how insensitive you are or how they always knew you were going to leave.
In other words, the narcissist remains protected. They do what they can to make you look like the bad guy. Unfortunately, their strategies often work.
What is The Worst Thing You Can Do to a Narcissist?
If you want to know how to hurt a narcissist, it’s helpful to remember that the worst thing is also the simplest thing. Of course, simple doesn’t mean easy, and many people find this advice extremely challenging.
We know that narcissists rely on validation and attention to get their needs met. They need people adoring over them to feel important. When you feel frustrated with the narcissist, it’s normal to want to “get back at them.”
However, the worst thing you can do is nothing. By nothing, that means you don’t acknowledge them. You don’t criticize or correct or try to change them. You don’t do anything at all.
Ignoring a narcissist may feel challenging. After all, they tend to be experts in exploring and manipulating people. They engage in so many tactics designed to trigger a reaction.
But ignoring their behavior basically shuts down any enabling. It sends a strong message that you don’t care about what they say or do. For a narcissist, your lack of caring is far more damaging than even hating the behavior. It’s what drives a narcissist insane.
Can You Outsmart a Narcissist?
Yes. Outsmarting a narcissist can happen when you decide to no longer play their games. When you’re no longer playing the same game, you don’t have to abide by their predetermined rules or shenanigans.
Outsmarting a narcissist often means:
- Knowing your own boundaries.
- Respecting and honoring your personal integrity.
- Refusing to enable narcissistic behavior by ignoring it.
- Considering a no-contact approach if you decide to end the relationship.
With that in mind, you probably cannot outsmart a narcissist if you continue engaging in your familiar dynamic. They won’t respond well to you arguing or intellectualizing their behavior. If you fight back, they tend to become more reactive and explosive.
If anything, these strategies simply add fuel to their chaotic intentions. Once they have you reacting, they can turn up the knob on their own obnoxious behavior.
Outsmarting a narcissist means you choose to step aside. You don’t keep arguing back. You don’t keep hoping that they grow or change. Finally, you let go of expectations that the narcissist will recognize their behavior.
This insight can feel incredibly painful. However, it’s an important step towards moving forward in your recovery.
How to Get Revenge on a Narcissist With Low or No-Contact
If you’re truly ready to walk away from the relationship, you may be ready for a low or no-contact approach. At first, these strategies may seem harsh. You might want to barter, rationalize, or even excuse the narcissist’s behavior.
But if nothing changes, nothing changes. You may still feel the same anger, frustration, and sadness.
Going Low Contact
Low contact means limiting your interactions and relationship effort. You will need to set firm boundaries about what you will and will not tolerate.
For example, you might decide that you won’t talk to the narcissist about your feelings. Instead, you will only engage in small talk about the weather or other mundane current events. You might also set limits on how often and where you interact with the narcissist.
It isn’t advised to tell the narcissist about these plans. If you do, they will likely pester you with questions or insults. They’ll try to justify their behavior and get you to change your mind.
Many people prefer taking the low contact approach when no contact seems too stressful. It may be best if you’re dealing with your child’s other parent, close family members, or coworkers, and bosses. Some people also start with a low contact approach first before progressing into the no contact approach.
Going No Contact
No contact means exactly what it sounds like. You avoid all contact with the other person. If they call you, you don’t answer. If they bombard you with a million emails or texts, you still don’t respond.
In other words, they basically stop existing. You just cut them out of your life altogether. This approach is the most extreme one you can take. However, it also tends to be the most effective if you want to move on with your life.
Although it’s tempting to want to seek revenge on a narcissist, these emotional strategies rarely work. First, revenge rarely makes people feel good beyond just a few moments. Moreover, revenge doesn’t take away the pain you endured during the relationship. It doesn’t absolve the frustration, sadness, or confusion you feel.
Instead, focus on living your life. Focus on finding your happiness and your sense of success and love. That approach inadvertently offers the very best revenge.
Vanessa Van Edwards. (2015, June 29). The Psychology of Revenge: Why It’s Secretly… Science of People; Science of People. https://www.scienceofpeople.com/the-psychology-of-revenge/