What Happens When a Narcissist Is Exposed?

Last Updated on April 14, 2021 by Alexander Burgemeester

Exposing a narcissist isn’t always easy. It can feel uncomfortable and cruel, especially if you love them. However, you may encounter a situation where it seems necessary to do this task. 

If you expose a narcissist, it’s important to be prepared for their backlash. As you probably know, narcissists don’t react favorably to any sense of perceived rejection. They see themselves as better than everyone else, and they also believe other people are lucky to be in their presence.

To the narcissist, exposure feels unexpected, malicious, and downright wrong. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t move forward if that’s what you need to do. 

What Happens when a narcissist is exposed? Let’s first get into how to expose a narcissist and what you can expect from their reaction. 

When Should You Expose a Narcissist?

It’s important to know the right circumstances for exposing a narcissist. After all, the reactions tend to be dramatic and intense- you want to feel prepared emotionally.

You Need Support

It’s not uncommon to lie, conceal, or downplay the narcissist’s behavior. Usually, this happens if you feel concerned about other people judging you.

But everyone deserves love and support. If you want to build connections with other people, you may need to be more honest with them. Try to find your own friends (rather than mutual ones) that you can lean on. If you are a victim of Narcissistic Abuse, you will need help, support, and a way to escape your situation.

You Are Moving on From the Relationship

If you’ve decided to end the relationship, you may need to expose the narcissist

Of course, it’s nobody’s business what you do in your personal life. You don’t owe anyone an explanation for your decisions.

However, it’s no secret that narcissists don’t react well to rejection. When faced with rejection, they may try to conspire to turn everyone against you. If this happens, you may need to stand your ground and share your truth.

what happens when a narcissist is exposed?

You’ve Witnessed Dangerous, Fraudulent, or Illegal Behavior

If you know the narcissist is acting sketchy, you may be complicit in their behavior. 

The narcissist will work hard to rationalize their behavior. They might try to assure you that everyone else is doing it or that they aren’t doing anything wrong. They may even insult you and insist that you’re acting paranoid over nothing. 

Keep in mind that narcissists think they are above the rules. They often struggle with authority and leadership because they don’t like to follow someone else’s direction. Even if they know they’re doing something wrong, they can usually justify it because they think they’re entitled to the rewards. 

But if you stay silent, you are enabling the behavior. In the worst-case scenario, you may be held liable for their actions. 

How Do You Expose a Narcissist?

There are several ways you can expose a narcissist. No matter which method you choose, it’s important to remember that a successful exposure doesn’t mean the narcissist responds favorably. They usually won’t. Instead, it means that you’ve done your job in sharing your perspective. 

Stick to Logic and Facts 

Even if they disregard the truth, logic and facts are the only sensible weapon you have against narcissists. The narcissist may disagree with your reasoning, but rational people won’t. 

Get in the habit of writing down things as they happen. Keep it objective and neutral, and keep this notebook in a secure place. Narcissists thrive on gaslighting the people around them- they can do a great job at convincing you that you don’t remember things correctly or that you’re acting dramatically.

By writing it down, you are documenting the events as they happen in real-time. This information can help you when you expose them. 

Moreover, sticking to logic and facts removes the emotional element out of your discussion. It’s no longer about your subjective experience- it’s about confronting reality. 

Stay Firm With Your Boundaries

Narcissists can and will manipulate people when they are enabled to do so. That’s why it’s so important to identify and implement healthy boundaries.

Your boundaries may fluctuate depending on the relationship. It may also depend on your personal comfort. Some common boundary goals include:

  • Refusing to lie or tolerate lies from the narcissist.
  • Refusing to tolerate any name-calling or criticism.
  • Refusing to financially enable the narcissist. 
  • Refusing to respond to the narcissist’s attempts to gaslight or manipulate you.

Your boundaries inadvertently may expose the narcissist to their own behavior. By refusing to put up with their tactics, you stand a firm ground in honoring your self-worth.

How to Expose a Narcissist to Others?

It’s important to remember that exposing a narcissist can be dangerous. You have to consider the pros and cons before moving forward with your decision. 

As you probably know, narcissists rarely want to change their behavior. They like attention, even when it’s negative. That’s why, rather than trying to level the playing field, ignoring them tends to yield the best revenge.

That’s because your attempts to exposure may rile them up even more. They may become more combative and hostile. They will work as hard as they can to get other people to side with them, which can leave you feeling even more resentful.

What if You Expose a Narcissist to Their Family?

A few situations can occur. It depends on the family system and the narcissist’s patterns with them.

In one common scenario, the family acts as an enabling system for the narcissist. They may enable the behavior with generic cliches like, that’s just how he is! Instead of acknowledging the damaging effects of their behavior, they have chosen to ignore it. They may assume that it’s not even worth discussing. 

Many times, the family fears the narcissist’s rage. To reduce the chance of making them feel angry, the family will appease their needs. This is a way to maintain the family’s homeostasis, but it also means the narcissist holds most of the power and control.

In some cases, the family feels a sense of relief when the narcissist is exposed. They may have been feeling trapped and resentful. Indeed, there can be a sense of justice in watching the narcissist unravel. 

Regardless of the circumstance, it can be challenging for family members to set boundaries around the narcissist’s behavior. They have often maintained a dysfunctional dynamic for many years, and changing that behavior can feel incredibly uncomfortable. 

What About Exposing the Narcissist in Public?

Because the narcissist feels so protective over their ego, public exposure or through social media, is a tremendous threat. Any form of public humiliation can trigger extreme reactions. 

Narcissists are preoccupied by making sure they’re right. If someone or something jeopardizes their self-assurance, they move into a survival stance. They may lash out in the following ways:

  • Denial: The narcissist may deny the truth, even if it’s blatant. They will draw upon alternative theories, no matter how far-fetched or impossible they seem. They may insist that other people are crazy or dumb for not seeing the situation differently.
  • Narcissistic Rage: The narcissist may become explosive. This can sound like idle threats, physical violence, and emotional hostility. Sometimes, this rage is directed at just one person. Other times, the anger seems to know no bounds, and it destroys everything in its path.
  • Playing victim: The narcissist may blame anything or anyone else for their behavior. They may acknowledge doing something wrong, but they will insist that they had to do it that way. Or, they might try to convince others that there was cheating, fraud, or some other kind of indecent behavior occurring. 
  • Avoidance: In some cases, the narcissist will completely ignore or avoid exposure. They will literally pretend as if nothing has changed. This behavior tends to make other people feel uncomfortable, and so they might also ignore the narcissist’s behavior, which enables this avoidance.
  • Downplaying their feelings: Sometimes, the narcissist will pretend as if the exposure doesn’t bother them. This can sound like, I didn’t really care about this situation that much, anyway. It can also sound like, No, I’m not mad at all. I am just a bit surprised. 

Many narcissists alternate between these reactions. How they respond depends on the crowd, their relationship to the people around them, and their particular mood. That said, most narcissists have patterns. You can start to learn how to predict how they will handle uncomfortable situations.   

Will the Narcissist Forgive You if You Expose Them?

Usually, no. And if they do forgive you, they want to make you earn it. 

When a narcissist feels exposed, they instantly feel threatened. But instead of acknowledging that vulnerability, they move straight into anger. In some cases, the anger manifests as pure rage and disgust (Narcissistic Rage)

Suddenly, you’re the bad guy. You’re the terrible person for turning against them. You’re at fault for everything.

They will also try to inflict guilt. How could you do this to me? Why would you want to destroy this family? What do you want people to think about us? What’s wrong with you? 

If you struggle with low self-esteem, narcissists know precisely how to exacerbate your insecurities. That’s because they have spent a great deal of time and energy learning your weaknesses. That work has allowed them to try to exploit you when they see fit. 

If they opt to forgive you, they often make a big deal out of it. This can sound like dramatic statements like:

  • You’re lucky I’m so nice! Anyone else wouldn’t put up with this.
  • I know you didn’t mean it, so I’m going to forgive you.
  • You have no idea how hard I work. I’m going to forgive you, but it’s pretty insane that you can’t even see my side of things.

Usually, these statements are a form of gaslighting. The narcissist is attempting to manipulate your reality and make you question your truth. They also want to make you feel bad for making them feel bad. 

The end result is obvious: they want you to feel so guilty and ashamed that you never think about repeating that same mistake. 

What Does A Narcissist Do When Confronted?

What happens after exposing a Narcissist? There is a chance they won’t recognize what you’ve done as “exposure.” 

Instead, they will often insist that you’re lying. A narcissist’s truth can be so distorted from reality that they actually believe their own lies, even when the lies seem utterly delusional to everyone else. 

Then, they might try to retaliate by exposing you. They will reveal your secrets to garner attention or sympathy from other people. They will try to manipulate the story to make you look like you’re in the wrong. Beware of aggressive Narcissists and the possibility of Narcissistic Rage that might be unleashed on you.

Narcissists may also play the victim. For example, they might acknowledge their wrongdoings, but they will also provide incessant excuses for why they absolutely had to do what they did. Instead of taking ownership for their actions, they simply shift the blame.

In some cases, narcissists will apologize for their behavior. They might even make convincing promises about changing their ways. Unfortunately, this change tends to be shortsighted. Once they have their power and control back, they often return to their usual tactics.

Why Your Recovery Matters More Than Exposing

Exposing a Narcissist often results in an exhaustive competition. And because the narcissist plays by their own rules, they will stoop as low as they need to go to win.

You may find yourself overly frustrated in trying to prove the narcissist’s behavior to others. Unfortunately, narcissists are experts in convincing other people of their own lies. They tend to be charming and persuasive. Furthermore, they’re skilled in getting dirt on people- they know how to exploit and hurt others if they turn against them. 

When trying to deal with the narcissist, it’s more important to focus on your truth. You may need to break free from the toxicity in your life. You might also need to reevaluate your relationship altogether.

Although this approach may feel extreme, it may be the stepping stone towards change and recovery. You deserve to feel respected and supported by the people in your life. If the narcissist isn’t able to meet those basic needs, it’s time to reconsider their place. 

What happened when your Narcissist was exposed? Please share your experiences in the comments below.

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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?

13 thoughts on “What Happens When a Narcissist Is Exposed?”

  1. When I exposed my narcissistic mother, I made sure to keep documentation, meanwhile writing poems to express myself. It took me sometime, but I wrote a poetry book called “Closed Doors & Dim Lights” by Amour Luvele. My poetry book is about surviving the entrapment of a narcissist. The behavior followed me in relationships of all kinds. I knew it was time to move on, and so I did. It was the support and love from those that I met on my journey, who had shown me what love really is. For that, I am always grateful. My book received 5 stars, so the road to recovery was well-worth it. 🙂

  2. You don’t say how do u confront the narcissist,
    Talking and when is best time? Right after a rage episode it when they’re quiet and seem stable?

  3. He asked me to lie to the other supply for him. Then accused me of all his mistakes. Saying he won’t forgive me?? (I asked him about the other supply- he denied) so I spoke to her personally. He’s also taken my money and blocked me. The other supply recorded what he was saying and he was lying his arse off…. I think someone that can fabricate so many lies and manipulate everything and everyone, blame his doings on others, make himself out to be the nice guy by making previous supply lie on behalf of him, is deffo an entitled narc

  4. She kept on doing what she used to do (being a narcissist) but changed the strategy to get closer to certain people in my family to win them on her side. Of course she never apologized. She acts guilty and weak in front of me but the next second I turn my back she goes back to her true narcissist self.
    I decided to be aware of the situation and not let it drain me. I started to be more aware of myself and my value and express my feelings clearly without worrying to hurt here feelings like I used to do.

  5. My situation is complicated, and I’m finding my way to peace. My loved one is incarcerated, and I discovered that he’s a narcissist, a year into the relationship. I called him a narcissist, and everything went downhill. I haven’t met him in person, yet he has managed to get money out of me, magazine subscriptions, and emails and phone calls. I haven’t cried, because the only emotion I feel is anger. I just want to break things.

  6. My ex gf had been cheating on me with her ex husband and instead blamed the breakup on me and how I handle arguments. That I “broke” her. She is a covert narcissist so EXTREMELY good at playing the victim.. seeming innocent and making people believe her. She called him a narcissist and spent a year degrading him..cheated on him but now is back with him?? I called her a narc on my social media. Her friend saw it and sent it to her. She went into a narcissistic rage and immediately text me she wants me out her f-ing house (I’m here til my apt is ready while she lives with her ex husband). A few hours later I get an “apology” saying “I’m sorry you are painting me this way. ” not, I’m sorry for cheating on you and making you believe we are still soulmates and gaslighting you and lying to you. No…sorry YOU see me as the problem. They never take responsibility for anything they do.

  7. When I exposed her she took out a restraining order on me . Lied to the judge . Contradicted her statements to him several times yet he still have it to her . I only found out when it was served . Obtained the court transcript and the affadavit . Could not believe the judge gave it when I saw all the contradictions . Lost all my personal belongings . Well done by the narcissist

    • Hi Jamie,
      I’m sorry for the torment and losses that you’ve endured with another’s NPD. I don’t consider narcissists, or of the like, to be mentally or emotionally human. Currently, I’m experiencing a bit of what you’ve gone through with the dark “entity” that I use to rent from. My greatest loss has been the deterioration of my health. I’ve been a terminally ill senior citizen for around 2 years now. I moved across the street from my daughter last September as I was pretty desperate for her help. I was monetarily exploited by the “thing” for this reason. The “entity’s” condo that I rented had a wall to wall carpet with 5 years worth of dog urine and feces embedded into it. The ceilings and the walls were saturated with cigarette smoke and the original pipes from 1978 were still being used. They smelled like sewage when the water was on. All of the windows were open when I viewed the unit to hide the stench of bio-hazardous waste and carcinogenic substances. Within 2 weeks, I was in an ambulance headed to the emergency room. I had a total of 3 ER visits during the 4 month period of time that I lived there. Each time I couldn’t breathe and had chest pain. I got to the point where I could no longer walk up a flight of stairs and so I broke my lease. Although the “thing” isn’t entitled to my security deposit, I know that it’s highly unlikely I’ll ever see my money again, nor will I ever have the lung capacity that I had before I moved into this slum. I’d like nothing more than to file a medical lawsuit against this corrupt behavior. I learned the rule of thumb though about how to deal with a narcissist among other repulsive entities: Turn your back, head for the hills and run as fast as you can. Take good care of yourself, be safe and may peace be with you.

  8. Would like to add the judge was very reluctant at first as there were no claims of violence . That’s when the actress began . Claimed constant derogatory comments . Those comments were me asking her to read NARCISSIST relationship stages and emoy cheating

  9. When I exposed my narcissistic boss I was made into a total crazy person by him. I almost got hauled out of my house in handcuffs by the police. He turned everyone against me at work isolated me and struck with passive aggressive rage so intense I almost killed myself because of the pressure. These people are very dangerous and in the age of working at home can play their games freely over the Internet . Watch out people. You are right if they accused you and denied it. You are right about their verbal remarks and ways to upset you. They are masters in manipulation. Stay strong and never let yourself believe you didn’t see it right. You did. You feel it in your gut. It’s a ice cold feeling because these people are dead inside. Get away from them as soon as possible. Like the article said be prepared for what is to come. Document everything, record everything they do. But i did that and they still don’t believe me. People don’t understand this behaviour and only see you and what they made you in to. They put all their ugliness on you. So don’t fight it just go as far as you can away from them. Laws don’t protect you from these people because it’s not illegal to be a narcissistic person or a psychopath. It’s not illegal to make someone feel like dirt and mess up their lives. You can only get away from them. These people are predator minded and you can only win by taking away their power over you. I am still trying but it’s a hard fight and I will probably lose my job I had for 16 years. I shouldn’t have tried to fight him. Just leave if you can it’s the best option.

  10. I accidentally exposed my narcissist friend when I gave constructive advice about his marriage. He was paranoid to hell that his wife of 23 years was having numerous affairs and was constantly having her followed. I advised him to stop it because he would ruin everything with her. I told him that his behaviour wasn’t right and stalking. I then saw this blackness in his eyes but he agreed with me (?). Moving on a few weeks later, whenever he sees me it’s been the silent treatment. Totally ignores me! Oddly though, if he’s out at our local pub with others and I pass him, his ‘hello’ is cheery like he doesnt want anyone else to know that there’s anything wrong. It’s like I’ve caused a huge injury for giving my best advice without any malice and now I feel he has a hidden agenda for revenge. In the 10 years I’ve known this guy (he lives in the next Avenue up from me) we’ve spent a lot of time hanging out together in his ‘man shed’ and I’ve known for a long time he had narcissistic traits but now I know he is one and I feel very uneasy not knowing what his plans are for me due to the mixed signals he gives off. There’s a lot more to this story but if anyone can give any insight in to what I may be facing in the near or even distant future I’d appreciate it.

  11. Our NPD sufferer enjoyed a certain position of influence and control in a religious organization. After several years of stealth attacks, behind the back gossip and slander, lying, gaslighting and peer manipulation, apparently designed to keep others suppressed from positions where their roles may have challenged his control and influence, the narcissist was partially exposed.

    The expected reaction resulted. The narcissist used his influence to remove those who exposed him and/or challenged him. Very small price to pay. Although the narcissist succeeded in removing those he was clearly afraid of, he has most certainly suffered a tremendous mental blow. He appears to be physically ill and his normally cool demeanor has been replaced by one where he appears upset and ill at ease. He has personally told others he has been crushed, as though he is the victim.

    Regardless whether others come to recognize the depth of his issues, we feel confronting his harmful and unprincipled behavior was the only right course. As those who stepped up to expose his machinations remain close, he will almost daily face the reality that he is no longer fooling everyone and perhaps the damage he has done in the past will be less in the future, or better, he may be removed from that position so he can cause no more harm. Perhaps, he may even be helped.

    If you stand up for right principles, no matter the cost, you win personally.

  12. When I exposed my moms boyfriend of being homophobic,racist, narcissistic,misogynistic, and delusional he had the worst reaction. Some backstory: I’ve had to call the police on him 3 times before for screaming and threats, my mom has been with him for about 5-6 years. After this recent exposure where I poured my heart out on everything that’s bad about him he turned to satan. My mom was in my room with me reading what I said/exposed to him, when he bursted in my room, screamed in our faces and started beating my mom. He was reaching for me. I truly believe he was gonna kill me. Thankfully his son (who is a 10 year old hero) , heard my screams and ran to a neighbors to call the cops(his dad took his phone, thinking I been brainwashing him.) This all happened 2 nights ago. I will NEVER trust a man again. Fuck you mike, I hope you enjoy steaming hell.


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