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How Does a Narcissist React When They Can’t Control You? (ANSWER!)

My friend James is always in trouble when it comes to dealing with bad relationships. I always tell him he’s picking the wrong people. He never listens. But he does ask some good questions that I hope gets him closer to what he’s looking for! The other night he asked me, “Ryan, how does a narcissist react when they can’t control you!?” Well, James—that’s a really good question!

A narcissist will surely try to control you. The ways they do it can be quite troublesome for you. In fact, you’ll most likely get so accustomed to the way that they control you, that you’ll have a difficult time going back into another relationship. Yes—dating a narcissist can CHANGE YOU.


What to know about dating someone with narcissistic personality traits and BPD/NPD…

Dating a narcissistic personality type can certainly alter who you are. In fact, there’s now abundant research that points to the negative qualitative and quantitative effects of being around individuals with pathological narcissism.

According to a study by Nicholas J.S. Day, Michelle L. Townsend, and Brin F. S. Grenyer—screened participants described those with narcissistic personalities as having “grandiosity.” Or “having a requirement for admiration, showing arrogance, entitlement, envy, exploitativeness, grandiose fantasy, a lack of empathy, and self-importance.”

The study helps us to understand the types of behaviors that a single person could get exposed to over time. In a book published by the American Psychiatric Association titled “Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders 5th ed” (link to Amazon), which includes more than 200 experts, making it the definitive medical reference on all things borderline personality disorder—they outline the comprehensive effects of being with NPD partners.

What dating someone with narcissism is going to feel like

—How dating a narcissist changes you: general instability that you should be concerned about

The net result of both of these publications is one simple yet shocking conclusion, stating, “the vulnerable aspect of pathological narcissism impacts others in an insidious way given the core deficits of feelings of emptiness and affective instability.”

How Does a Narcissist React When They Can't Control You! GUY WHO IS UNHAPPY!

How Does a Narcissist React When They Can’t Control You? (6 Things They’ll DO!)

Here are the various ways a person with NPD will react when they feel like they can’t control you.

1: They’ll show disappointment

The first thing they’ll do is show a great deal of disappointment. The way they’ll do it is by being very closed off, showing sadness, and generally not behaving the same way. It’s simply because they aren’t getting what they want from you.

When they don’t get what they want—the dynamic of the relationship changes entirely. And when it does, it causes the NPD personality type to be highly uncomfortable. It’s not ideal for them. It’s not truly what they’re looking for.

2: There will be a great deal of manipulation

Manipulation will often get used when they can’t control you. The type of manipulation will surely be based on the type of person that you’re with and the dynamic of the relationship. For example, using guilt would be a form of manipulation. You have no reason to feel guilty about NOT wanting to be controlled.

Another type of manipulation would be to ask questions like, “I don’t feel like you love me… What changed?” When you get confused why that question would get asked—you might be inclined to want to revert back to getting controlled by the NPD personality!

See also: The alpha female!

3: It may be assigned to not feeling ‘love’ from you

By not feeling “love” from you this could spark a great deal of other reactions from the NPD personality. For example, they might decide to spend more time with friends. They might decide that supporting you isn’t as important anymore.

Anything that you may have shared that shows that something is important to you—could be used as a potential tool.

When this is the case, understand that this is actually a type of abuse. And that you shouldn’t be in this situation. It’s important to draw healthy boundaries with the NPD person.

4: They may try to trigger you using jealousy

Using jealousy is a great tool on behalf of the NPD. For example, in younger relationships, they may decide to go out. And then send you pictures of them hanging out around other men/women. This could cause you to feel a great deal of insecurity. And for no real reason at all!

Jealousy is a fantastic tool that the NPD will use on you. And in most circumstances, it’s going to work quite well! The best thing to do when this occurs to you is to step away from the situation. Understand that if someone truly loved you, they wouldn’t be trying to make you jealous.

Related: Signs a narcissist is done with you!

5: There may be an attempt to trigger your anger

Triggering anger out of you is a great way to manipulate you. If they can show so much disappointment. Or show/ask why you’re not allowing them to control you, then they can start to trigger frustration out of you. This is a fantastic way to try and unwind your sense of confidence that’s happening when you don’t allow them to control you.

If this is happening, it’s really best to try and take a step away from the situation and compose yourself. By letting them anger/frustrate you—you’ll be giving them more fuel for their bad habits and internal games.

6: Distance might get used as a tool

Distance is a great tool that the NPD will use. For example, if they aren’t feeling the same type of love by not being able to control you—then they might step away. And by stepping away, they can trigger you to feel insecure, as well.

If you’re someone that suffers from feeling a lack of love from distance—then it surely will be used as a tool. But don’t put anything off the table—the NPD will try to find your most insecure parts of yourself and use that as a tool to be able to control you again.

See also: Dating someone who was abused by a narcissist

How Does a Narcissist React When They Can't Control You? GIRL WHO IS UNHAPPY!

How Does a Narcissist React When They Can’t Control You: How Does This Control Make You Feel?

—How does a narcissist react when they can’t control you!?

If you feel destroyed or exhausted—this is a common feeling. If you’re someone who is suffering from having an NPD try to control you, then you’re going to feel extremely confused. Remember that being in these mental games that the NPD plays is quite exhausting.

Remember—they live in a world that you don’t understand.

And they don’t truly understand that the way they’re behaving is hurting people.

What To Do When They Are Trying to Control You But Can’t

—How does a narcissist react when they can’t control you!?

If you feel like they’re winning in the attempt to control you—take an even further step back. Remember that the only way to truly combat being controlled by the narcissist is to draw bigger boundaries. These may not be the boundaries that you want to draw for yourself—which is why you should consider revisiting the relationship as a whole.

If you drop your guard, don’t! Remember—ask yourself, “Why should you be treated this way?” Or, “Why would you let someone treat you this way?”

You should not! Plain and simple!

My Own Experience With a Narcissist Trying to Control Me…

I have been in multiple narcissist relationships… And what I can say is that they truly don’t understand how they’re trying to control you. It may be as simple as not ever being happy with the relationship. You may find yourself giving and giving until there’s no end… That was certainly my own experience.

And from that, it felt very exhausting… And I realized that I was being controlled through it. I had no time left for myself. And I was putting my career at risk. I was putting my family at risk. It was just too much.

Fact checked:
Board reviewed by Marianne Tomlinson, LCSW (Couples and Family Therapy). Content is rigorously reviewed by a team of qualified and experienced fact checkers. Learn more.

About the author

Ryan Sanderson (LCSW) Ryan is a game and relationship enthusiast who enjoys all things quizzes, games, fun, love, relationships, and family. He's a licensed social worker and helps families, couples, and children in need. He's spoken about love and relationships on Salon.com, Forbes, and Mirror, to name a few.

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