Narcissists are some of the most toxic and draining people you will ever come across. And believe me, you will come across them; according to psychologists, we are currently living in an ‘epidemic of narcissism.’ Unfortunately, you may not even realize when you’re being manipulated by a narcissist.

They’re everywhere – at work, at school, in your social circle, etc. They cleverly lure you in with their superficial charm then quickly shift gears and show their true manipulative, arrogant, and entitled colors.

Well, at least it all seems clever and quick. In reality, a narcissist’s behavior is quite predictable; most people just don’t know what to look out for. Luckily, humans have been looking into narcissism for thousands of years. It’s also one of the prime focuses of modern psychology.

So, what’s say we dig through the knowledge of our forefathers and uncover some key signs of narcissistic manipulation? Ready? Let’s dive in!

Are you being manipulated by a narcissist?

1. “Poor Me!”

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We’re all victims at some point or another. But a narcissist is always the victim – in their own mind, anyway. It’s how they lure people in. They know that humans are, in general, compassionate beings. They know that if they cry loud enough, someone is going to run over and offer assistance.

If you suspect someone is playing the ‘perpetual victim’ game, start taking a closer look at their stories of distress. Do they all seem to follow a similar theme – e.g. ‘somebody did this really bad thing to me and I have no idea why’ – or contain more plot holes than a Michael Bay film? If so, they could be a narcissist trying to pull at your strings.

2. Diversion

Oh, so you exposed one of the narcissist’s stories as undeniably false? Guess what, it’s not like you’ve never told a lie to gain attention. That’s what they’ll throw at you – a diversion.

This is often to catch you off guard. However, as in the scenario above, diversion can also have the effect of making you relate to – and therefore sympathize – with the narcissist. This makes you far more likely to bend to their will in the future or excuse bad behavior.

3. Sudden Behavioral Changes

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When you first meet a narcissist, they’ll make you believe you’re the center of their world. There will be no shortage of compliments and praises. Their aim with this is to create a false sense of security. Eventually, they hope, you will become dependent on their praise.

And here’s when things get nasty – and distinctive.

You’ll know you’re dealing with a narcissistic manipulator when those compliments hit a brick wall. Suddenly, you’re no longer a little slice of heaven in their eyes. You’re lazy, incompetent and dumb. Their aim is to get you begging for their praise again and to get you doing anything they ask.

4. Guilt Trips

This is a behavior that commonly pops up in narcissistic parents or family members.

“Oh, you haven’t called me all day… Can you take me grocery shopping this afternoon?”

“Your brother came to visit me yesterday… Where were you? I need to borrow your car.”

Narcissistic manipulators use guilt trips to make you feel as though you ought to over-extend yourself to make up for your supposed misdeed. Unlike normal people, they make no attempt to see things from your point of view and forgive. All they see is an opportunity to capitalize on your potential for remorse.

5. Aggression

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You might be surprised to learn that outward displays of aggression can be used by a narcissist not to scare you off but to pull you closerYou see, people – particularly women – are attracted to aggression. It’s all got to do with natural selection; an aggressive mate = protection from rivals.

When you don’t give a narcissist what they want, they may become verbally or physically aggressive with you in an effort to engage that natural instinct of yours.

Want to learn more about how narcissists manipulate people? Check out this video!

The Sydney Morning Herald
Psychology Today
After Narcissistic Abuse
Very Well Mind
Thought Catalog
Psychology Today
Psych Central