Why do narcissists start smear campaigns?

If you’ve ever ended a relationship with a narcissist, you know that they don’t let you go easily. They might beg and plead for you to stay, promising to change their behavior if you give them one last chance.

Alternatively, they might let you go but seek revenge afterward. Once you end the relationship or cross a narcissist, they may launch a smear campaign.

Smear campaigns can also occur when you try to confront or cross a narcissist. Perhaps they’ve seriously wronged you, and you want them to own up to it. 

If you’re not familiar with the smear campaign, this is the narcissist’s effort to tarnish your reputation by spreading lies, rumors, or exaggerated truths about you.

Perhaps you’ve experienced a smear campaign before, but you just didn’t know what it was called. Either way, you probably wonder why narcissists act this way.

Reasons for the narcissist’s smear campaign 

Narcissists are master manipulators, and smear campaigns can be one way they manipulate to achieve their goals. If you’ve been the victim of a smear campaign, you probably want to know why the narcissist felt it necessary to try to destroy your reputation.

Well, when narcissists launch a smear campaign, it’s usually for one or more of the reasons below. 

Protecting their image 

Their public reputation is one of the narcissist’s biggest concerns. They are constantly worried about how others perceive them. 

If the narcissist worries you might expose their true nature to others, they may begin a smear campaign to protect their image. Rather than allowing you to tell the truth about them, they’ll try to create a narrative in which you’ve wronged them.

They hope to get others on their side, so they can maintain their positive reputation. 

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Avoiding accountability

Narcissists cannot take accountability for their wrongdoings. Their fragile egos simply cannot handle if they admit to being imperfect. 

Rather than taking accountability, narcissists shift blame onto others. A smear campaign attacks your credibility, thereby diverting attention away from the narcissist’s bad behavior.

Spreading lies or attacking your character makes you look like the bad guy, so the narcissist doesn’t have to take any blame. 

Maintaining control 

Smear campaigns allow the narcissist to control others’ perceptions. When a narcissist spreads lies about you, they can manipulate the opinions of family members, colleagues, and mutual friends.

This gives the narcissist control over the social narrative, so they have the upper hand, just like they want. 

Creating confusion and doubt

Narcissists need the people around them to be in a state of confusion. If people aren’t confused, they’ll catch on to the narcissist’s games. 

So, the narcissist benefits from launching a smear campaign to undermine your credibility. Spreading lies makes it difficult for others to determine the truth, confusing them.

Ultimately, this makes you look bad, and isolates you from other people, who won’t want to associate with you anymore.

Punishing you

Revenge and retaliation are two of the narcissist’s favorite games. They cannot help but seek revenge against those who have offended or exposed them.

The smear campaign is a way for the narcissist to punish you by ruining your reputation, causing you distress, and isolating you from sources of support.

Narcissists think you deserve a smear campaign because you crossed them. In their twisted minds, it’s only fair.

Obtaining validation and support

Narcissists need to have other people on their side, or they won’t be able to get away with their diabolical games. Through a smear campaign, narcissists can strategically gain sympathy and support from others.

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A smear campaign allows the narcissist to portray themselves as the victim, while making you out to be a villain. This tactic allows the narcissist to rally others to their side, so they have the support they need to fight against you.

Having people on their side also feeds the narcissist’s ego, reinforcing their sense of superiority and righteousness. 

Projecting onto you

Narcissists often place their negative traits onto others in a process called projection. So, when they launch a smear campaign, they may be accusing you of all the character flaws they possess. 

This allows the narcissist to avoid facing their own flaws, which protects their fragile ego. This also deflects blame away from the narcissist and allows them to maintain a positive public image. 

Deflecting criticism

One of the narcissist’s primary goals is to avoid scrutiny. When they come under scrutiny, they may use a smear campaign to deflect criticism.

They know that you might expose them, so they must attack your character to discredit anything negative you might say about them. When the focus is on your bad behavior, it creates a distraction that prevents others from questioning or criticizing the narcissist. 

Ensuring compliance with their needs

Sometimes, the smear campaign serves as a warning to others. When the narcissist destroys your reputation with a smear campaign, others will take notice and conclude that they should never try to cross the narcissist.

Publicly tarnishing your reputation will intimidate others, discouraging them from ever challenging or criticizing the narcissists themselves. In this way, the smear campaign serves as a method of ensuring that others comply with the narcissist’s needs. 

Taking their power back

Losing power and control is terrifying for a narcissist. Starting a smear campaign can help them regain their power when they feel threatened or powerless.

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If you’ve left the narcissist or are attempting to expose their wrongdoings, this represents a loss of power. The narcissist must maintain a positive public image, and you cannot take it away from them.

Manipulating the narrative through a smear campaign allows the narcissist to get their power back. It’s a way for them to assert dominance and control over the situation, so they can acquire the power they need to survive. 

The bottom line 

Being the victim of a smear campaign can be quite shocking. During a smear campaign, the narcissist will go to great lengths to destroy your reputation so they can maintain the upper hand.

Remember, this smear campaign says nothing about your true character. It is a harmful and manipulative tactic that narcissists use to protect their image, avoid accountability, and maintain control over others. 

When you understand the reasons behind a smear campaign, you’ll be better prepared to recognize the tactics against you. You’ll also be ready to protect yourself. 

Protecting yourself

You have a right to defend yourself against an unfair smear campaign. It may be difficult to protect yourself, but it’s best to remain calm, and be prepared with evidence that supports your side of the story.

Seek support from trusted friends and family members, whom you can count on to stay in your corner. These people can provide you with validation and emotional support as you deal with the fallout from the narcissist’s smear campaign.

You might also consider reaching out to a counselor or therapist to help you cope with the stress of a smear campaign.

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