The Painful Reasons Why Narcissists Hurt You

Being in a relationship with a narcissist can be emotionally exhausting. At times, you might even find yourself bewildered by the trials and tribulations you experience during your interactions with them. 

If you’re dealing with a narcissist, you are probably left feeling confused, betrayed, and deeply wounded by their behaviors.

It’s natural to want to understand this behavior. After all, you deserve an explanation for why you’ve been so hurt! 

This Is Why Narcissists Hurt You

When narcissists hurt other people, it’s typically because of the core features underlying narcissistic personality disorder. We’ll dive into these features below. 

#1 Fragile, Insecure Egos

To the outside world, narcissists appear to be confident and self-assured. Beneath their outward mask is a fragile self-esteem they will protect at all costs. 

When narcissists hurt you with their stereotypical behaviors, such as manipulation, lies, and exploitation, they are simply trying to protect themselves from threats to their ego.

By taking advantage of others and hurting them with exploitative behaviors, narcissists can maintain their outward facade of superiority. 

#2 Abandonment Fears

Narcissists probably won’t ever admit it, but deep down, they are terrified you will leave them. Since narcissists have underlying feelings of inadequacy, they fear they aren’t good enough for you, no matter how superior they try to present themselves as being. 

Remember, outward displays of grandiosity are simply a cover-up for fragile self-esteem. Internally, narcissists are quite unsure of themselves, and this often comes from childhood experiences of emotional deprivation or trauma. 

To keep you from leaving them, narcissists use abusive, controlling tactics that ultimately leave you emotionally wounded.  They might put you down to make themselves feel superior, and to convince you that you will never find a better partner. 

See also  9 Reasons Why Narcissists Need Their Flying Monkeys

They also use controlling, manipulative behaviors to maintain all the power in the relationship. Being in control reinforces their belief that they are superior to you, allowing them to avoid feeling inferior. 

#3 Lack of Empathy 

A lack of empathy is one of the core features of narcissistic personality disorder. Narcissists come across as cold and callous because of their inability to identify with your emotions.

In healthy relationships, each partner has empathy for the other. However, with a narcissist, empathy is entirely lacking. This means they will show little remorse when they hurt you and won’t feel compelled to offer a genuine apology.

This adds insult to injury. Not only are you hurt by the narcissist’s behaviors, but you’re also not receiving an apology to help you move on. Over time, the lack of remorse from the narcissist makes your emotional wounds grow larger. 

#4 Toxic Cycles

Narcissists are known to oscillate between idealization and devaluation in their relationships. This creates an emotional rollercoaster for anyone who has a close connection with a narcissistic person. 

During the idealization phase, the narcissist views their partner as being perfect. They shower their partner with love and attention, showing signs of behavior typically called love bombing.

Viewing their partner as special reinforces the narcissist’s belief that they are unique and superior and should only associate with other special people. However, as soon as the partner shows any signs of imperfection, the narcissist will devalue them.

This could be as simple as the significant other unintentionally hurting the narcissist’s feelings or somehow letting the narcissist down. Realizing that their partner is human and not perfect, the narcissist will become highly critical, demeaning, and even emotionally abusive.

See also  How Do You Know a Narcissist is Lying?

The narcissist does this because any indication that their significant other is imperfect challenges the narcissist’s belief that he or she is unique and superior. The realization that they are in a relationship with an imperfect person triggers the narcissist’s deeply hidden feelings of inferiority.

Once the narcissist is no longer triggered, they may return to idealizing their partner, setting the cycle back in motion. This creates a confusing pattern of highs and lows, leaving the partner emotionally damaged. 

#5 Projection and Blame-Shifting 

To protect themselves from feeling weak, inferior, or vulnerable, narcissists must avoid acknowledging any of their own flaws, mistakes, or shortcomings. To admit to imperfections would challenge the defense mechanisms narcissists have put in place to protect their fragile egos, thereby causing emotional collapse. 

Rather than taking accountability for their own mistakes or flaws, narcissists use several harmful avoidance tactics.

Projection is perhaps the most common avoidance tactic they employ, and it involves attributing their own insecurities to others. For example, a narcissist who perceives themselves as being lazy may accuse others of laziness. 

Narcissists may also project their own bad behavior onto others. If they are cheating, for instance, they may constantly accuse their partner of cheating, even when there is no evidence to justify the accusation. 

Finally, narcissists may use blame-shifting, in which they refuse to take accountability for their misbehavior and instead blame others. They might tell their partner that they caused the narcissist to act in an abusive way, or drove them to become emotionally damaging.

These behaviors are confusing, invalidating, and extremely hurtful for the person on the receiving end. 

#6 Willingness to Exploit Others

If you’ve felt a narcissist has taken advantage of you, you’re not alone. People with narcissistic personality disorder tend to view relationships as transactional. They believe that if they enter a relationship with you, and grace you with their presence, you must provide some sort of benefit for them.

See also  Don't Fall Prey to a Narcissist's False Promises

This means narcissists seek to gain whatever they can from people, and they don’t expect to provide much in return. Narcissists are willing to exploit you for their own gain, and they won’t feel any remorse for doing it.

A narcissist might use you for your professional expertise or high standing within the community, only to disappear when they don’t need you any longer. Or, they might take advantage of you without repayment or so much as a “thank you” for your help.

For the typical person, this behavior is quite hurtful. You’ll feel as if you were used, and your feelings didn’t matter. 

Coping With Pain from Narcissistic Behavior 

Hopefully, obtaining a grasp on the reasons behind narcissist behavior will leave you feeling more validated. Perhaps you blame yourself for all the narcissist did to hurt you, convinced that if you were somehow better or more loving, the hurtful behavior never would have occurred. 

Remind yourself that you are not to blame. The narcissist is a person with deep wounds, and their entire ego depends upon manipulating, exploiting, and dominating others. Narcissists do this to protect themselves, and no one they interact with is immune.

Now that you recognize that much of the narcissist’s hurtful behavior is an attempt to defend themselves against feelings of insecurity, you can begin to heal. Stop taking the blame for their behavior, and acknowledge that you have a right to reclaim your sense of self-worth and autonomy. 

Related Articles