No doubt, the narcissist in your life probably has you feeling miserable on a regular basis. You probably spend excess time trying to impress or please them. You might also devote intense energy to maintaining a sense of peace within your relationship.
Unfortunately, narcissists often bulldoze loved ones with their cruel actions. You may believe like your needs don’t matter. You might also doubt whether they care about you at all.
But what makes them feel triggered? What makes them angry or offended or unraveled? How to make a narcissist miserable? Let’s get into the top 14 things that make the narcissist miserable.
#1 Your Lack of Attention
What are the weaknesses of a narcissist? Indifference and invisibility. Narcissists thrive on attention- they need to be the focal point of your life. The best way to make a narcissist miserable is by taking away these things from them.
That’s why even negative attention rarely fazes them. Arguments and insults often stoke their ego- they know that you’re still spending energy thinking about them, and this mindset encourages them to keep acting the same way.
Additionally, narcissists are experts in gaslighting, and they are skilled in transforming negative attention into a ‘you’ problem.
- You don’t understand what I’m going through.
- You give up when things get too hard!
- You never care about anyone else but yourself.
Often, saying nothing at all is far more effective than arguing back. Your quietness sends a message that you don’t care, and that lack of attention feels inherently threatening to a narcissist.
#2 Doing Something They Don’t Like
Narcissists don’t like to play by the rules, but they expect everyone else to play by their rules. That’s because they assume their way of doing things is the right way. From their perspective, any other option seems useless or stupid.
Narcissists tend to be highly opinionated, and they see life in extremes. People are good, or they are bad. Things are perfect, or they are a colossal failure. It’s all seemingly black-or-white, and they are rarely able to see anything in shades of gray.
The list of things the narcissist doesn’t like is usually extensive. For example, they may detest a particular restaurant or person or TV show. Once they have decided this thing is “bad,” they are rarely interested in changing their minds.
Therefore, when you do something they don’t like, it can make them become unhinged. They take it personally- they can’t fathom why you would ever think your idea is a good idea!
#3 Losing at Something
Nobody likes losing, especially when you value the prize associated with winning. However, most adults accept that it’s impossible to succeed at everything. When they lose, they may grieve for a few moments and then move on. They may also reflect on why they lost and reevaluate their strategy in the future.
Narcissists, on the other hand, can’t comprehend actual loss, it is bad for their self-esteem. Because they believe they are entitled to what they want, the loss doesn’t feel real or even applicable. If they lose at something, they might react by:
- Pretending as if they never cared about winning in the first place.
- Criticizing, humiliating, or publicly shaming the winner.
- Acting as if they are still the winner. (“We all know who really won tonight!”).
- Blaming the system for allowing cheating or other faulty errors. (“This was rigged!”).
- Acting as if they let the other person win.
- Excessively demanding a rematch or redo.
- Playing dumb (“I didn’t even know we were keeping score!”)
In other words, narcissists can’t admit defeat. Doing so acknowledges vulnerability or weakness, and those are some of the narcissist’s greatest fears.
#4 Someone Else Using Logic And Facts
Narcissists typically use intense, grandiose language when they speak. It’s one of the reasons why many narcissists are gifted public speakers. They talk with heightened emotion that’s designed to capture their audience and elicit attention. But if you try to actually follow what they’re saying, the words tend to seem hollow and flat.
Logic and facts often seem beneath them. The narcissist lives in a bubble where all that really matters is how they think and feel. Their perspective is all that matters, and anything that may challenge that is perceived as threatening.
Narcissists will often argue with logic and facts. Even if you have legitimate evidence, if it doesn’t fit into their worldview, they might counter with an argument like:
- That doesn’t make it true!
- You can’t trust everything you read!
- That sounds like someone made it up.
- You’re reading too much into things.
- Anyone can make stuff up. You need to be careful where you get your information.
If you feel like you are in a losing battle arguing with a narcissist, that’s because it can certainly feel that way. It’s like arguing with a toddler throwing a feisty temper tantrum. Most toddlers simply won’t react well to logic and facts.
#5 Following Through With Boundaries
Although it may seem surprising, narcissists aren’t strangers to boundaries. After all, they recognize that we live in a modern society governed by rules and restrictions. Moreover, narcissists cognitively understand that people have inherent needs in their relationships.
That said, they’re not used to actually needing to comply with such boundaries. To them, rules and restrictions are meant for other people. If anything, they are the ones who should set the guidelines for everyone else to follow.
Most of the time, they’ve moved through life with people caving into what they want, tiptoeing around them, or avoiding them altogether. They don’t usually have experience with consequences. That’s because most people don’t want to deal with the stress of setting these consequences.
When a narcissist receives boundaries, they tend to react extremely. They make intense threats. They engage in smear campaigns. They gaslight your reality and try to convince you that you’re crazy, overreacting, or a terrible human being (or all of the above!).
As a result, setting boundaries with a narcissist can feel overwhelming for anyone. But if you want to know what drives a narcissist insane, it comes down to setting and following through with your limits.
#6 Critical Thinking
At first, this may seem paradoxical. After all, you’ll often hear a narcissist complain that other people are inferior, stupid, or otherwise inept. Therefore, you would think they want people to think critically and attentively.
As it turns out, narcissists don’t want you to reflect on yourself or cultivate insight. They want you submissive, weak, and malleable to their needs. They want you focused on how you can improve their life and not vice versa.
Critical thinking threatens narcissists. It’s the first step in decoding delusional behavior. Once they detect that this might be happening, they will engage in all kinds of tactics to manipulate your thought process.
#7 Spontaneous Behavior
Why would you do it that way?
You’re not doing ____ today? But we do this every Saturday!
What do you mean that you no longer want to do _____? That’s ridiculous.
Most narcissists live by rigid rules of how other people should behave. They will often attempt to reject any deviations from their perceived norms.
To avoid an exhausting fallout, loved ones often comply with these rules. If they decide to change their actions, they often do so behind the narcissist’s back. They don’t want to deal with the interrogation or explosiveness.
Spontaneous behavior can threaten a narcissist because it may signify a change in your relationship. In their minds, if this one thing has changed, what’s next?
#8 Anyone Else’s Success
Narcissists want to hoard the success. The spotlight needs to be on them at all times- if it shifts onto someone else for too long, it may signify a personal rejection, and that can seem intolerable.
Subsequently, narcissists often see their partners or family members as pawns. You are a sum of what you can offer to them. It doesn’t matter what makes you happy or fulfilled- it’s about how you help prop up their victories.
They don’t want to share the stage with you. It could take away from their own victories. It’s important to remember that when the narcissist seemingly revels in your success. Usually, this strategy is a mere leverage to showcase their own excellence.
For example, a narcissistic parent may incessantly brag about their children. Look how great they’re doing! They couldn’t have done this without me! A boss might brag about their employee’s success. I did such a great job hiring them! I knew it from the start!
#9 Financial Problems
Money makes the world go round, and most people feel stressed when they face financial difficulty. But money is an important and dangerous tool for narcissists. Often, it’s how they garner success and power, and it’s how they “win” influence over other people.
Narcissists often chase money. They may believe wealth is more important than meaningful relationships, and they use money to substitute love.
Most narcissists downplay, avoid, or outright lie about financial problems. Without money, they often feel empty, and they have less power to manipulate or control other people.
As a result, many narcissists engage in reckless or illegal behavior for financial benefit. They may take on exorbitant amounts of debt, steal from others, act extremely cheaply, or participate in shoddy business deals. They often justify these actions as completely necessary.
Narcissists prefer chaos over stillness. They like to be busy, moving, and stimulated. This isn’t inherently a bad thing- many people crave excitement and novel experiences.
But narcissists can rarely stay present with the current moment. They’re always planning their next move, and they might obsess over what they need to do in the future.
As a result, if you refuse to engage in their constant need for adrenaline, they’ll often get defensive.
#11 Someone Else’s Emotions
How often do you hear the following?
- Why would you feel that way?
- Don’t feel angry. That’s crazy.
- You shouldn’t get so worked up over something like that.
- You’re always so emotional!
- You should be happy with what you have.
- Anyone else would be grateful to be in your shoes.
Narcissists are inherently self-centered and self-absorbed. Their worldview is all that matters, and they often perceive people’s feelings as unnecessary barriers.
They also tend to see your emotions as optional, meaning that you can and should be able to change them. That’s why they rarely validate how you feel. To them, emotions get in the way of them getting what they want- control, power, and attention.
It’s not a secret that narcissists loathe authority. Authority means someone else has power and control, and they don’t want someone else calling the shots because that makes narcissists truly miserable.
Consequently, most narcissists have issues at school, in the workplace, or with law enforcement. They don’t conform to rules, particularly if they don’t see the merit.
At first, narcissists may try to concede to the superior figure. This submissiveness is usually a manipulation tactic. They want to build rapport to influence the authoritative person to see things from their point of view. They want to prove how smart and capable they are in leading the group.
If this doesn’t work- if the authority figure stands their ground- the narcissist often becomes defiant and unruly. In their eyes, the authority figure is now unfit, incompetent, and inept. The narcissist now perceives this as somewhat of a “war,” where they must defeat the authority.
I’m not ready to get married.
I want to see what other options are out there.
I need my time to make the right choice.
Although narcissists depend on others for validation, they want the connection on their terms.
It’s why many of them struggle to commit to jobs, locations, or relationships. They don’t want to lock themselves into something, and they often don’t want to give other people the satisfaction of their commitment.
#14 Going No-Contact
Loved ones often need to protect themselves from narcissistic abuse by going no-contact. To the narcissist, this approach can feel like the ultimate betrayal.
They can’t understand why you wouldn’t want a relationship with them. It nearly seems inconceivable. That’s why they often make intense attempts to reconnect. They want you back in their orbit, back where they have a semblance of control over what you do.
What do you think of these 14 things that make the narcissist miserable? Can you name more things that should be on this list?