14 Effective Ways To Make a Narcissist Really Miserable

Last Updated on June 24, 2022 by Alexander Burgemeester

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

How do you make a narcissist miserable? First, we have to look at what the weaknesses of a narcissist are; 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. 

Your lack of attention will make the Narcissist miserable for sure.

things that make a narcissist miserable

#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. 

Reading Suggestion: 11 Typical Examples of Narcissist text Messages

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?


Reading Suggestion: I Don’t Want To Be a Narcissist Anymore


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.

#10 Boredom

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. 

#12 Authority

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.

#13 Commitment

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?

how to make a narcissist miserable
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Alexander Burgemeester

Alexander Burgemeester has a Master in Neuropsychology. He studied at the University of Amsterdam and has a bachelor's in Clinical Psychology. Want to know more?

17 thoughts on “14 Effective Ways To Make a Narcissist Really Miserable”

  1. After two marriages two divorces and one period of 3 years in a common law relationship, I told my narcissistic husband to leave as a result of yet another infidelity. It took him several months to come back knocking on my door. I called 911 and the Police came. I have not seen him since. Why didn’t I do this after the first marriage and divorce?????? He was obviously frightened of any one with authority which of course was not me … but the Police scared him … no doubt he feared being ridiculed or charged with stalking.

    Reply
    • It’s better to call the police too late, than never. Unfortunately, it’s normal to be so angry, that you don’t know what to do, or only think of the right action when it’s too late.

      Good luck in your life, I wish you the best.

      Reply
  2. I have not been able to find any material for the following problem. Since the divorce was finalized, my exspouse has had us back in court numerous times trying to undo resolved matters or to misrepresent matters to a new judge. I can ignore her but it would be at my own peril to ignore the Court. There is nothing to stop her from continuing to file motions. So far I have been victorious if it can even be called that, but it hasn’t been without costs to me of having to deal with this-emotionally, physically and financially. Any help would be appreciated. Telling me to not let her get to me does me no good. If there wasn’t the threat of some legal consequence, she couldn’t get to me.

    Reply
    • Hi Sean:

      I’m not dealing with something like you in a legal arena. But, I am in a similar type of danger. You may have to “play dead”. This seems to be what this person is trying to do. You may have to setup “another life” elsewhere. Meanwhile, you need to make it appear as if your current life is falling to pieces(before it actually does). Move your finances with a trusted family member or start a business in a good shielded state and run your finances out of there. Then apply some of your high school theatre training to dressing down and making it look like she has succeeded in ruining you. Be aware of her flying monkeys. Surely by now, she has “seduced” your friends and colleagues and is getting status updates from them. If you own a home, maybe rent it out. while you rent a small apartment with cheap furniture and then spread the word you lost the house. Don’t say you sold it because then she will think you have proceeds from that sale, which she feels she is entitled to or may wish that you not have it either. The important thing is to control what she sees as much as possible. Illusion is your best weapon. Good luck with everything, I wish you well.

      Reply
      • This is Tripp again:

        The main idea is to remove her supply. Her supply is apparently seeing you doing well or ok in one or more aspects of your life and then being able to doing something to those successes. Once you remove her supply she will seek out another victim to degrade in some fashion. If you ever planned a move to another state now could be the time. Be sure to send her on a wild goose chase. Hopefully, there are no kids involved. Cheers

        Reply
        • You are very correct!!
          Now with all I’ve learned and discovered about narcissists what do I do when there is kids involved

          Reply
          • It is truly the most awful situation I have ever encountered
            He will pick a child to be your replacement
            Typically the same sex
            I suffer more watching him toy with his own daughter Mercilessly, to provoke me… and I fall short because as a mother I try to rush in and save her… and I play right into his hand, he gets his supply!
            I have now launched a counter Terrorist educational way of explaining to her that his behavior towards her is inappropriate and unnatural and I point out other paternal relationships for her to make her own recognitions and I and My mother and father and close friends shower her with UNCONDITIONAL LOVE to try and bridge the gap.. but the sad fact is no young girl should life without HER fathers unconditional love……

    • Blank face. Always. Watch your body language. No emotion. Don’t look down. Don’t look up. Be unreadable. No feedback. Ever. Grey Rock. Breathe.
      Do your laundry, ie; “loans” to others. Etc.
      My heart goes out. Best of wishes.

      Reply
    • I don’t really know but is there anything you can do to drag her in court over,is reversing the roll an option, anything regardless of how petty it is, even people who want to be in control get to drunk too pilot the ship

      Reply
    • Maybe move to another country quietly. If you move anywhere, do not change address with P.Ofc. or she can get your address. Instead, contact all your sources like Bank, Credit cards, Electric, etc. for your last billing to give your new address which might be a P.O. Box for awhile. If needed, get a Box that uses their physical address so it appears to be a physical address for you.
      Sincerely pray. You are up against evil. I will pray for all of us. I’m sorry for your pain.
      I am confident this Lawyer can help.
      I’d like to know the outcome.
      214 587-3391 You May text or call.
      I don’t answer calls I don’t know but you may leave a detailed message.
      I believe we should all have a meet up group & maybe there is already🤗
      You can sell the house quietly w/o advertising it.
      Sell off things as if you need the money, so you are downsizing.
      I realize you might have a job you need to stay with.
      Maybe it is a job that can transfer you and not tell her anything.
      The internet has a Lawyer who specializes in narcissistic divorces and helps people even if thy have their own Lawyer. -Liz

      Reply
    • Make sure you two don’t meet anymore. Don’t be present in court, if there, don’t make any eye contact, leave as soon as it’s over, don’t show any emotions. Your aim is to starve her. Look up articles on how to starve a narcissist.

      Reply
  3. Well if you have to live in close proximity to them and they have in the past been able to control manipulate bully and invalid your boundaries. You changing by not reacting and responding with law if needed improving yourself and the thing that really winds them up is being happy it drives them insane when they have to see and hear someone they tried to destroy full of happiness and content. The bad behaviour gets worst intimation flying monkeys stalking that’s why let law deal with them and watch the same old bag of tricks being ramped up big time as they try to get control of you again. Just observe the drama and
    let them play with their flying monkeys. Just watch how sad and predictable the behaviour actually is and the saddest thing of all is they don’t even learn from it. I’m happy I can learn from my mistakes and move on because my strength and happiness comes from inside. They will never know this.

    Reply
  4. Question: My Narcissist 70 yr old Sister. Stole trust of 180k gave it to internet lover boy toy. Broke my and Twins relationship with evil lies, Caused me to live in my car 7 months, She assisted in forging my name to her $80,000. Financial Contract. D.A. Demanded to Prosecute her. To not go to prison for Trustee self dealing. We agreed that she qift me 1/2 of Her Home & Property. Took her to court for RO Judge denied cause we live together. NOW she says it would be better for both of us to sell house and Property. NO was my reply and reminded her of the F’n Hell she put me through. Told her a Chasiers check in the amount of $169k before hitting market. Then maybe I agree. She can not get the $160k due to her over spending habit.
    We both went no contact.
    WHAT NOW WILL SHE COME UP WITH? MURDER ME? ( She was found quity of Attempted murder of her 2nd Husband with a gun. And she physically attacked me 3 times, 4th time I call Sheriffs She physically Challenged One of the Officers! ADVICE GREATLY APPRECIATED!

    Reply
    • Colleen. Give up the $$. Your life is priceless. There are great programs for seniors. No, it’s not fair.
      Peace of mind will come to you when she does not know where you are. There are more for you than against you. Never believe it’s too late.

      Reply
  5. Sad to say but if it came down to fearing for my life and it’s you or me guess which I prefer,and you being 70 and a caring person isn’t a crime even the authorities know what she’s capable of and should be monitoring her,I personally had a situation of what money makes people do, reading about things and thinking this could never happen to me,I was bad wrong,no inheritance because money is the rule of all evil

    Reply
  6. This is something to try if you know getting out of the relationship is best, it’s what you need to do…but you can’t get yourself to fully do so.

    *Again, this is only a suggestion. Each situation is as different as each person is. If dealing with a narcissist who is highly unstable, aggressive, or you fear they could react with physical harm…either do not attempt, or please make sure you have everything covered in regards to the possible reactions they could have. Always have a solid plan for your safety. Stay with family or friends. And make sure someone knows your plans.

    When your narcissist does one of their toxic or abusive behaviors(one in which you can’t understand how someone does that to another person). You know the narrists knows it’s terrible behavior but doesn’t care and won’t admit to it…tell them that you are no longer attracted to them. Don’t tell them right when they have done their shitty thing to you though. Wait till the dust settles a bit. As though you had some time to really think it all over and how you feel. Don’t attach any anger to it. Need to have an assertive calmness attached to it. And depending on the specific situation you’re in, you might NOT want to tell them in person. By telling them in a text, phone call, or email you don’t have to say anything more. Don’t have to explain or prove anything. Don’t have to deal with their reaction response or them physically trying to keep you there. Typically though, it will be such a low blow to their fake ego they will be so shocked that they won’t end up doing much…if anything at all.

    This usually will get them to no longer make efforts to contact you or just show up out of the blue. At the least it should give you some time and space away from them. Enough to get your head back on straight. To get your true self and life back. And you won’t feel all confused or bad cause the narc has no control now.

    If in someway you still allow them to communicate with you, and at somepoint they try to sexually entice you…remind them you aren’t attracted to them anymore and tell them that it would be a bad idea. That it would highly likely be an awkward and uncomfortable situation. A situation in which they would end up regretting.

    *Also Note* – This is more successfull when told to someone who is a covert narcissist.

    Reply

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