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.
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.