I know how much you want to get revenge. But what’s the worst thing you can do to a narcissist?
Believe me, I know. You’re wondering.
You’re probably not even a vengeful person! If you were, you probably wouldn’t be here because a narcissist would have found you an undesirable partner.
So where has all of this come from? What do you do with all of these feelings?
There’s some sort of indignity in everything you’re going through right now. So many emotions, so much loss.
It’s not just that they lie. It’s not just that they cheat. It’s not even that they degrade and humiliate us, purposely trying to hurt us. It’s that they intentionally gained our trust first before doing these things. It’s that they knowingly hurt us and looked us in the eyes while doing it.
It’s that they made us look and feel as if there is something wrong with us for feeling hurt and angry over being treated this way. They make themselves out to be the victims.
It’s that they move on so quickly, completely unscathed by a relationship that left us in emotional tatters.
We’re left astounded by the magnitude of the wrongs done to us.
There may be a material loss as well. We may be dealing with financial or legal consequences or struggling to put our lives back together if our stability has been disrupted in areas such as our housing or job.
Yes, I know… there’s a part of us that wants to see it all come crashing down for them.
How is it possible that we gave them everything and they can walk away as if it doesn’t matter? They not only leave us with so little but leave so few people around them not even knowing or understanding what happened.
We are left wondering: is there any way to make them feel the consequences of their actions?
Why Talk About How to Get Revenge On a Narcissist?
This is obviously not just a whimsical thought. It seems to keep many people from moving on.
That we can live in a world where someone can cause so much damage and “get away with it” seems so unjust. It’s hard to believe that they can just walk away from the destruction as if nothing happened and keep doing it again and again with new partners.
So many people in their lives turn a blind eye and refuse to see what they’re doing, even enabling it at times and it can seem as if, just once, they should be made to feel the consequences of their actions.
It feels as if there must be something you can do with all of your anger at the injustice. You want others to see through their lies and feel vindicated.
But it isn’t just about revenge. If there was some way to inflict some “equivalent” pain, you think, maybe the narcissist would have an epiphany and stop doing what they do.
Maybe you would feel some validation that they would finally understand the pain they caused and could relax knowing they couldn’t cause you any more pain.
You could even feel relief knowing maybe they wouldn’t do this to anyone else.
Something about the thought of getting even makes you feel as if you are one step closer to getting closure.
But here’s the problem. Getting even is no easier than getting closure, because narcissists don’t suffer for the same reasons that we can and then, as a result, grow and change because of this suffering.
What Hurts a Narcissist?
As described in the narcissistic cycle of abuse, narcissists are sensitive to feeling criticized by practically everything, but what actually wounds them?
- Being exposed as frauds, that is, having their mask ripped off for others to see them as they really are
- Being humiliated
- Being manipulated and “played” (losing control)
- Being without narcissistic supply
- Being rejected
The problem with wounding a narcissist and causing a narcissistic injury, however, is that narcissists react very strongly.
Let’s evaluate some potential methods of getting back at a narcissist to determine what goals would be met and how effective they would be.
Note that I’m examining these as thought exercises. I’m not endorsing any of them or suggesting that anyone should actually go out and do them.
The reason why is that many emotions were manufactured in us over time through the relationship, and some of these urges will stem directly from those emotions. Giving in to them might cause us to create situations that would make things worse for ourselves and play right into the hands of the narcissist.
So, by going through all of these ideas one by one, I do not suggest them seriously.
I think it’s worthwhile to think through where the urges come from, what is likely to happen, and whether or not they are good ideas.
Only then can we reject them and understand that there is vengeance that we can take, but not in using the traps that the narcissist has laid for us.
Reactive Methods of Vengeance
These methods are highly rooted in emotion. They are likely to be noticed and elicit a strong and dangerous response from the narcissist. I don’t recommend them. But let’s examine them anyway as a theoretical exercise and determine what it is about them that’s so attractive and why they are unlikely to work.
Expose Their Misdeeds
This seems like the first and most obvious way to hurt them. After all, it’s not just that it’s revenge. You’re just keeping it real. Everyone around them thinks they’re a saint, or just misunderstood. But you know the truth. They need to be stopped. Sometimes, you might even want to clear your own name.
Why You Don’t Want to Do This:
You may make the narcissist angry and put yourself in danger. No one is likely to believe you and even if they do, the narcissist will soon smooth everything over. The narcissist can use it to make you look crazy or to justify treating you poorly. The best you can likely hope for is to plant seeds of doubt.
It’s probably not as satisfying as you’d hoped and might make you feel even worse.
Criticize Them Intentionally to Antagonize Them
Narcissists are known for being able to dish it out, but not being able to take it. Giving them a little tit for tat might actually show them what it’s like when they go around humiliating or degrading you.
You don’t have to verbally abuse them as they do you, just make comments about how the guy or girl across the room is more attractive.
Or whatever they value about themselves, make an off-hand comment about how they’re not doing as well in that department as they used to.
For double the fun, perhaps do it in front of one of their friends.
Since they hate being criticized and are going to get offended no matter what you do anyway, you might as well give them something to be offended about. Why play nice?
Why You Don’t Want to Do This:
You may have lashed out in anger at the narcissist in the past. In this case, however, you’re sinking to their level intentionally to get a reaction, not just because you’ve been provoked.
Furthermore, they take many things you do as criticism anyway and might not notice that anything has changed. If they do, they can use what you’ve done to play the victim to others, and because it was premeditated and intentional, now it is arguably justifiable.
Mock or Laugh at Them
This is similar to the previous tactic, but a little easier to claim innocence. Everyone laughs and teases others sometimes. It would be easy to accuse them of being too sensitive if they made too big of a deal out of it.
Why You Don’t Want to Do This:
It doesn’t matter if what you do is subtle; they are notorious for invoking double standards and will still invariably use teasing as an opportunity to turn themselves into victims.
In addition, humiliating them is also likely to invoke hostility and unpredictable acts of rage and vengeance from them onto you. It’s dangerous to purposely cause them humiliation.
Treat Them How They Treat You When They Devalue You
What are the things about how they treated you that hurt or upset you the most?
The silent treatments or disappearances for days on end?
Turning their backs on you when you need them the most?
Making future plans with you and then carrying them out with someone else?
Cheating on you or triangulating you with other love interests?
Smearing you or providing information to others that they learned about you in confidence?
How about if you started to do the same things to them? Again, a little tit for tat to see how they like it.
Why You Don’t Want to Do This:
They are manipulators and you’re not. You have a conscience, so it’s probably a fantasy that you could keep this up for long enough to make much of a difference.
Even if you did, the things they do are so blatant and heinous, as noted above with direct criticism, they can use what you do to make themselves into a victim to gain sympathy and support and to justify their poor treatment of you.
Some of these things are just playing with fire and you’re going to invoke hostility from them. Yes they did these things to you and it’s not fair, but they’re mentally-disordered and unstable and that’s the point.
It’s doubtful they would even recognize that you were treating them how you were treated to show them how it feels because they don’t have the insight to recognize that their behavior is a problem.
Responsive Methods of Vengeance
These methods of vengeance may not look like vengeance at all. In fact, they look closer to boundary-setting. When the narcissist is behaving inappropriately or making demands, you decide you won’t deal with it anymore.
To a narcissist, however, this is highly upsetting.
Say “No” or Blatantly Challenge What They Say
This is the sort of thing that can set off devaluation from them in the first place.
You, just living your life, say to them, “No, I want to see my friends tonight. I don’t want to cancel my plans.”
Or, “No, I don’t want to drive for an hour to come see you tonight. I’m really tired.”
They expect to be catered to. Early in the relationship, little did you know that you simply not doing what they wanted you to do whenever they wanted you to do it meant that you were likely already injuring them and didn’t even know it.
But now you can do it on purpose just to show them they can’t control you. They hate not being in control.
Why This Still Probably Won’t Work:
Again, because they already see many things people do as attacks, they probably wouldn’t notice that you are intentionally changing your actions to make a point.
And, just as they do when you didn’t intentionally challenge them, they will continue to make you out to be the “bad person” and use what you do to turn themselves into victims.
Ignore Them When They Try to Get a Reaction
The narcissist uses many covert acts of abuse and manipulation that individually seem minor but over time can constantly trigger you into being anxious or upset.
Examples can include mentioning how much better an ex was at making them feel, exploding because you took too long to text when you were out with your friends, making a cutting comment under his or her breath but where your mutual friends cannot overhear about something that they know will hurt you.
Usually, you would respond with anger or outrage or tears at this mistreatment. Instead, perhaps, you smile in amusement, maybe give a little shake of your head and walk away. Or cock your head and squint as if what was said did not make any sense. Or move away and begin speaking to someone else as if nothing was said at all.
Why This Still Probably Won’t Work:
The narcissist might try harder at first to get a reaction from you; in other words, you might have to endure more abuse.
Yet he or she is not likely to even recognize this as revenge or a reaction to anything he or she did.
Leave Them For Someone Else
The real idea with this not just that you’re leaving them for someone else, but that you’re making sure they know, right? One of the things narcissists hate most is feeling replaceable. This is ironic since they use people solely to prop up their own egos and as such treat people as if they are completely and utterly replaceable.
Why This Still Probably Won’t Work:
You will confirm that the narcissist was “right about you all along,” that you were no good and would eventually just run off with someone else. Or they will think you’re so hung up on him or her that you had to run out and find someone else immediately to get over them.
In other words, no matter what you do, they will find a way to spin it and make it about themselves. They won’t view it as revenge, but you’ll be giving them additional narcissistic supply.
The Worst Thing You Can Do to a Narcissist
Walk Away and Live Your Best Life
Narcissists hate feeling invisible and worthless. Even if you react negatively to something that they do, they still know that they matter enough to make you upset and to speak with them about it.
Therefore, although it is the most subtle statement of all in terms of direct confrontation or mentioning the narcissist’s behavior, in this method of revenge, you simply say nothing. It’s “saying no” and ignoring them rolled into one– with a permanent twist.
Why is this better than leaving for someone else?
Without having to leave them for another person, you’re telling them you’re strong enough to stand on your own. Right now, they think that they have you wrapped around their finger and you can’t live without them.
How about telling them you don’t need someone else as a crutch to stand on or to replace them in order to live apart from them?
In fact, your best life may include dating many people down the road, not just settling for one as soon as possible. You’re not like them. You don’t have to swing from vine to vine just to avoid being alone.
Your best life, in other words, is anything without them in it and that’s all they need to know.
Why This is the Most Difficult of All of Your Options:
Yes, I know. This is the hardest thing to do while we are still in love with the narcissist.
It may also be the least satisfying because we don’t get to witness any effect it might have. But part of what keeps us from moving forward is a need to know what the narcissist is doing and whether good things or bad things are happening in his or her life.
Free yourself of that desire to know, and you free yourself of the chains that bind you to the narcissist and “do your worst damage” at the same time. It’s ironic, but that’s the way it works.
Why Getting Back at a Narcissist in Traditional Ways Doesn’t Work
Through examining these methods of revenge, the following statements seem clear:
1. In order for something to be viewed as “revenge,” someone has to understand that they did something to warrant revenge in the first place. Narcissists don’t usually accept responsibility for their behavior or view their behavior as problematic. This is why so many of these methods backfire or cause more issues.
2. None of the methods will provoke an epiphany from the narcissist about how they have been treating you. They don’t cause remorse, validation, acknowledgment, or change because they don’t view you as anything but an extension of them, not as an equal who is entitled to your own pain.
3. Because narcissists are eternal victims, they will view you as the attacker if you do many of these things, instead of viewing them as reactions to something they did.
4. The fact that they will view you as the attacker means that even though it may wound them in the short-term, it will actually help the narcissist in many ways. They gain narcissistic supply from you, even if it’s negative. They may gain narcissistic supply from others in the form of sympathy by using what you did. They can also use it to strengthen other relationships by bonding with others over what a bad person you are.
5. If you are going to continue to interact with the narcissist or people that he or she knows, you can also cause yourself more harm either directly from the narcissist, or indirectly through your reputation.
6. In the long-term, you won’t have wounded them at all, and may even have helped them to just keep doing what they do.
Walking away and living your life is the best possible way to get back at a narcissist. Therefore, if you want to take revenge, do this.
It’s the only way. Every serious life coach and mental health professional who understands narcissists and treats survivors will tell you the same thing. Watch this short video from Stephanie Lyn that I hope will help to motivate you:
All of the other options either lead to additional suffering for us or they provide more ammunition for the narcissist to use against us.
It may seem counter-intuitive because there is no big confrontation. We don’t get to tell the narcissist what we really think or see them self-destruct. If you think about what narcissists thrives on, however, by rendering them invisible, you starve them of the drama that they crave.
Just by leaving we take all of our power back.
The win is truly ours because walking away shows them we no longer care about anything they have to say and they have no more control over our lives.
You can give them complete and utter silence and do everything you can to heal and become an even better person without them. This sends a message that they are insignificant in your life and that you don’t need them.
Walking away is the worst thing you can do to a narcissist because it’s the best thing you can do for yourself.
Don’t forget to check out these resources:
Kristen Milstead is a narcissistic abuse survivor who has become a strong advocate for finding your unique voice and using it to help others find theirs.
Researchers Reveal Why Narcissists Are Obsessed With Getting Revenge
Throwing a personality disorder diagnosis on people we know is unfair, and frequently, an erroneous claim. The label of “narcissist” is one such label that has garnered a lot of attention in social media and the news in the last few years.
So narcissism is a personality disorder, and we can apply the term to some people. However, it is also quite popular a label we use unfairly on many others. Professionals use a set of established criteria before diagnosis. Additionally, they look for expected extreme behaviors. One such behavior is a strong need to get revenge. Researchers reveal why the narcissists obsess over getting revenge.
What is Narcissistic Personality Disorder?
Every person who has a strong tendency towards always being right, needing to be the center of attention and strong selfish behavior is not always a narcissist. Here are the personality traits professionals look for according to the DSM V Handbook (Diagnostic and Statistical Handbook of Mental Disorders edition 5) used by mental health professionals:
- An extreme sense of self-importance
- Need for chronic and excessive attention
- Feeling of entitlement
- Lacking in empathy
- Behavior which is arrogant or patronizing
- Exploitative and manipulative in relationships, casual or personal. Will take advantage of others for their own benefit
- Believes themselves to be so special compared to others. Believes only select individuals are worthy
- Is either envious of others or believes others are envious of them
- Extreme fascination with exaggerated signs of wealth, power, control, prestige, or appearance
According to the DSM5, a narcissist only has to demonstrate 5 of these characteristics but most genuinely display all of them. In addition to these traits, there are certain others which play into other behaviors:
- A strong dislike of criticism. Any verbiage or action which can even be construed as criticism will create a harsh reaction.
- Believe themselves to be correct at all times
- Make statements regarding the height of their knowledge being one that exceeds most others.
- Finally, they won’t acknowledge their mistakes and will blame others or outside incidents for their actions.
These above characteristics feed into these behaviors:
- Display anger and impatience when they don’t receive attention
- Have strong insecurities which leave them vulnerable to any hint of rejection
- Lack of control in their emotions and behavior
- Difficulty adjusting to change and stressors
- Failing to reach perfection leaves them feeling depressed and moody
- Internally struggle with feelings of shame, insecurity, vulnerability, and humiliation
Narcissism is rarely diagnosed in the teenage years due to the chronic changing and development of our personalities during this time. On the off occasion that it is diagnosed, traits must have been present for a minimum of 1 year. More commonly, it is diagnosed in adulthood, with personality traits worsening with age. This diagnosis is more common among men than it is women and affects about 6% of the population.
Narcissistic Injury and Rage
There are two behavioral traits that a narcissist has that can make them a threat to others. One trait usually leads to the other.
The first is a narcissistic injury. Despite how egotistical a narcissist may act, their ego and self-esteem is very fragile. This makes them susceptible to the slightest criticism, lack of attention or sense of being slighted. Scientists call this a narcissistic injury. This feeling could be from a legitimate situation or one they believe to be real.
Once a narcissist feels that they have been made to feel “less than” somehow, it will spiral into narcissistic rage or revenge. The injury is usually formed from one of these three causes:
- Forced to question their confidence. A narcissist’s ego is their protective shell. If too many demands are placed on them, and they are unable to handle the stress, they feel their confidence is being attacked.
- Damaged self-esteem. A narcissist has strong feelings of shame and failure. When they feel challenged, it chips away at their façade of entitlement or self-importance. Thus, their true lack of self-esteem emerges, and they are unable to handle it.
- A narcissist has developed their lives to create this illusion of how overly competent and capable they are. They have surrounded themselves with others who have indirectly supported this idea to allow the illusion to continue. When someone else points out their failures, they become extremely defensive.
Specialists state that this rage forms far quicker than the average person. Most people go through 7 stages prior to hitting rage.
These stages are:
- Stress: sensations of anger felt on the unconscious level usually left unexpressed.
- Anxiety: Indirect clues or behaviors that subtly show feelings of anger
- Agitation: Publicly claimed emotions of dislike or displeasure without blaming anyone or thing
- Irritation: Purposeful expressed dislike used to goad the seemingly responsible person
- Frustration: Physical expression through changes in facial expression or words
- Anger: Loud vocalization and yelling with strong facial expressions
- Rage: A narcissist doesn’t control raging emotions. Extreme vocalization and possible violence at an object or person.
For the narcissist, they can go from irritated to rage. Their trigger can be something others would view as mild. To the narcissist, their ego and self-esteem has been bruised and they feel a rush of emotions they are unable to control. The main component to recognize this rage from anger is how exaggerated and disproportionate the reaction is.
They can show rage through verbal or physical aggression or passive-aggressively. The more verbal or physical rage demonstrates itself with cutting sarcasm, strong verbal outbursts and aggression, with potential violence.
A passive-aggressive approach shows itself as an icy cold demeanor, tension, resentment, sarcasm, and neglect. Either version of rage is an attempt to seek revenge onto the person who they feel exposed to their weakness.
What causes a narcissistic personality?
Scientists aren’t sure what creates a narcissistic personality. The commonly accepted theory is that it is biopsychosocial causation. In other words, possibly a genetic tendency passes down and combines with the individual’s personality traits. Additionally, the person feels the impact of interactions with family, parenting, friends, and school at a young age.
Many also adhere to the idea that as a child, the individual experienced some event(s) which made them question their capability and confidence in themselves, most likely through social interaction. As a result, they covered up their personality with another personality that could compensate. They accomplished this so successfully for a time that they no longer connect with their original personality.
The narcissist in all of us
It is important to understand that we all have narcissistic traits and that only a professional can diagnose an individual with a Narcissistic Personality Disorder. For those of us with similar traits, situations can trigger more of those traits if we don’t get a handle on it.
For example, let’s say you have self-esteem issues. Your boss passed on you for a promotion then forced you to train the “new guy”. You would demonstrate passive aggressive narcissistic traits while internally building up your sense of self to being far better than the person who your manager chose for the job.
That is the beginning of narcissism. In fact, that does not mean you have a personality disorder. It means you are exhibiting symptoms that could get far worse without intervention. In our example, the job situation caused the episode.
We should not always fear narcissists. Like any mental illness, these individuals have their strengths and weaknesses which can be as beneficial and detrimental. I once read about how narcissistic surgeons are, and the writer made a compelling argument. “Wouldn’t you rather have someone cutting into you who believed they knew exactly what they were doing than one who was questioning themselves?”
Food for thought.
Researchers reveal why narcissists obsess over getting revenge, and it essentially boils down to the fact that they are extremely insecure, vulnerable, and fearful children who cover it up with delusions, bluster, and might.
By no means am I implying that if you are in a relationship with a narcissist who is beating you down, physically or emotionally, you should have pity and stay. Definitely not. Your mental health is important, too.
Finally, it is important to note that not all your previous, badly ended relationships mean the partner had a narcissistic personality disorder. Because, of course, only trained professionals can diagnose this disorder accurately. As pointed out above, we all can have narcissistic traits for better or for worse.
What Revenge Tactics You Can Expect from a Narcissist
If you insult or in any (often unimaginable) way offend a narcissist, you may learn that they don’t fall short on revenge tactics against you. It can be a hellish situation.
Whether you’re divorcing a narcissist, or still married to one, you know what we’re talking about. Unfortunately, having to deal with a narcissist, whether someone is a pathological narcissist or only exhibits such personality traits, is bound to bring much pain and anguish.
And to make things worse, getting away from a narcissist isn’t any less agonizing.
What Is narcissism?
A narcissistic personality disorder is a part of official psychiatric and psychotherapist’s practice.
So, it’s not just something you would say to describe an overly self-absorbed person. It’s a real problem that professionals are trying to tackle. A narcissistic personality disorder comes with a lack of empathy for others, focus on one’s own interests, and a belief that everything somehow relates to this individual.
Not only relates – it’s supposed to be pleasing to them.
In therapy, a narcissist is taught to observe the world and others as they are – not there to serve the narcissist’s fancies. Nonetheless, when it comes to a truly pathological form of such constellation of personality traits, many believe that the ways of a narcissist can just be ameliorated.
The narcissistic core is considered by some to be untreatable.
The narcissist with others and on the inside
In effect of such pathological worldview, narcissists are extremely difficult for those around them. They demand, most often explicitly, that everyone plays by their rules. This can turn into a completely absurd situation in which their spouses become deprived of their own personality.
And it’s still not enough.
Narcissism, albeit it doesn’t appear so, truly comes from a profound lack of self-confidence.
Such an individual can be and usually is, very annoying to their environment. They come off as arrogant, demanding, in-love-with-themselves, and everyone else falls far behind them. But, the opposite is true. This truth is often hidden from themselves too.
What happens when you offend a narcissist
And let’s face it, it’s the easiest thing in the world.
More or less, whatever you do, you will inadvertently manage to do something that will anger the narcissist. Their world is built around their ego, so everything has a potential of insulting them. Now, depending on their good will, you may get off with just a slightly awkward situation.
Or, you may experience the full-blown wrath of a narcissist. This is something that is profoundly familiar to all those married to such a person.
Unfortunately, the life of a narcissist’s spouse is bound to be a miserable one. To control you (and they must do so because of their insecurity), your spouse will come up with impossible ways to make you feel unworthy, drain your energy and zest for life, and destroy your ability to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
And this is just your regular day. Now, what happens if you dare to do something that will truly enrage them? Like get a divorce or find someone who doesn’t treat you like dirt. Or, in essence, reject a narcissist in any way.
This is when the narcissist’s truly destructive nature comes to play.
A narcissist’s revenge and what to do about it
Narcissists, in general, don’t cope well with any form of failure and rejection.
Nonetheless, when they experience a rejection in interpersonal relationships, things tend to get dire. They don’t like being adored, and they can’t live with being rejected.
When rejected, as when you ask for a divorce or fall in love with someone else, your narcissistic soon-to-be-ex will quite possibly get aggressive and downright scary. Narcissists, when they feel unwanted, don’t run away from hurting innocent people, like your children.
And imagine how revengeful they might get with someone that they perceive as guilty, such as yourself.
It happens almost without exception that leaving a narcissist turns into a hell on earth for many months or even years. Unfortunately, brace yourself for repeated threats, smearing your social reputation, trying to mess up your career and the new relationship, suing you for custody over your kids.
Whatever comes to your mind, you’re probably right.
What you can do is avoid getting vengeful yourself
This never works. It will only make your and your children’s lives a never-ending misery. But the narcissist will never stop until they get a new partner to bully and to wrestle with.
So, abandon all such ideas of war with a narcissist. Instead, learn about narcissistic personality disorder, try to disengage as much as possible and move on as quickly as possible. And get a good lawyer.
Want to have a happier, healthier marriage?
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.
Sylvia SmithExpert Blogger
Sylvia Smith loves to share insights on how couples can revitalize their love lives in and out of the bedroom. As a writer at Marriage.com, she is a big believer in living consciously and encourages couples to adopt this principle in their lives too. Sylvia believes that every couple can transform their relationship into a happier, healthier one by taking purposeful and wholehearted action.
Last Updated on April 8, 2021 by Alexander Burgemeester
The narcissist has hurt you so many times.
Maybe they’ve gaslighted you or smeared you or completely destroyed your self-esteem. And somehow, they continue to get away with their awful behavior.
Even when things seem to be getting better, you may feel like you’re walking on eggshells. It’s like they can change their mood or behavior at any given moment, and you always feel like your five steps behind them.
Either way, you want to take revenge on a Narcissist. You want them to feel some of the pain you’ve endured. They’ve made you feel miserable, and now you want them to feel miserable in return.
But is your desire to seek revenge on the narcissist smart? Moreover, is it even possible? Let’s take a look at what hurts a narcissist and why it’s not advised to seek revenge.
How To get Revenge On a Narcissist?
Why Do You Want Revenge On The Narcissist?
It’s essential to do some self-reflection when you want to hurt the narcissist. What’s going on within you? Do you feel trapped or alone in your struggles? Does it seem like things aren’t ever going to get better? Have you suffered from Narcissistic abuse?
Take some time to think about your intentions. It’s normal for us to seek revenge when we feel helpless, powerless, or otherwise unsure about how to proceed. It’s also normal to want to hurt people who have hurt us.
Nobody likes feeling like they’re being played. We tend to seek revenge because we think it will give us a sense of justice. We also believe it might help us heal from the pain we’ve endured.
That said, it’s important to remember that revenge has limited benefits. Research suggests that getting even feels rewarding for the first few moments. However, after that reward quickly fades, your left feeling more aggravated and resentful. Then, you may even turn towards punishing yourself because you felt guilty for seeking revenge.
What Hurts a Narcissist?
Although it may seem surprising, narcissists are incredibly sensitive. They have fragile egos, and they spend a great deal of time and energy protecting those egos.
But people rarely see their insecurities because narcissists expel so much energy acting like they’re better than everyone else. They mask their inferiority by trying to convince everyone how fantastic they really are.
It’s not a secret that narcissists love attention. Therefore, any lack of attention can be detrimental to their well-being. So what hurts them?
1. Being Publicly Humiliated
Humiliation is one of the greatest antidotes to narcissistic behavior. Narcissists hate feeling embarrassed. Nothing can be more shameful than when other people recognize their fraudulent intentions.
But narcissists don’t accept negative feedback. Instead, they often:
- Turn against other people in an attempt to humiliate them.
- Blame other people or situations for their incompetence or stupidity.
- Convince others that they are the victims of their circumstances.
- Defend their behavior mercilessly (no matter how ridiculous it may seem).
Narcissists can’t understand why anyone would reject them. Rejection hurts, but instead of looking inward, they tend to lash out at others. A narcissist may react to rejection by:
- Trying to rally other people into rejecting the other person.
- Spending excess time and energy trying to make the other person feel miserable
- Pretending the rejection didn’t happen at all
- Bombarding the other person with reasons why they need to reconsider the rejection
- Excessively defending their actions
3. Loss of Control
Narcissists feel the need to control almost every situation. Control makes them feel safe- it’s what gives them power and authority over their lives (and the lives of others).
When they feel like they’re losing control, they often:
- Engage in whatever tactics they can to restore control.
- Blame other people for causing them distress or turmoil.
- Convince others they are victims of unfair circumstances.
- Become physically violent to maintain a sense of power.
- Use threats or other hostile language to get what they want.
It’s no secret that narcissists hate losing. Losing means that someone or something might be better than them, and this reality often seems completely unacceptable.
When a narcissist loses, they might react in many extreme ways, including:
- Blaming the other person or an external situation for unfair circumstances.
- Pretending as if they are still the winner.
- Convincing other people that the “judge” or situation was incompetent or unjust.
- Excessively shaming the winner or the other bystanders.
5. Someone Else’s Emotions
Narcissists focus on themselves. Other emotions are nuances. They are distractions, and they get in the way of them getting what they want. When faced with someone else’s emotions, narcissists often react by:
- Telling you that you’re overreacting.
- Explaining how you should feel instead.
- Convincing you that nobody else cares about what you’re experiencing.
- Finding a reason to insult or criticize you for how you’re feeling.
You might consider engaging in one of these tactics if you want to seek revenge. Since you know they effectively hurt the narcissist, they feel tempting. Let’s get into why this mindset is rarely effective.
Why Does Seeking Revenge Only Tend to Make Things Worse?
When you’re reactive to a narcissist, the narcissist notices your intentions. They see that they’ve elicited a strong response from you, which tends to cause more problems.
You May Put Yourself in Danger
Angry narcissists can become extremely impulsive and even violent. When they don’t get their way, they tend to do whatever it takes to restore their power.
Unfortunately, narcissists also do a great job of convincing other people that they’re wonderful. Therefore, you run the risk of nobody believing you if they hurt you.
They May Dish It Back Ten Times Harder
You might think that mocking, laughing, or insulting them can poke holes in their seemingly flawless system. However, narcissists are unable to take and reconcile feedback. Instead, they will likely double down on their efforts to hurt you back.
In doing this, they may dig up every single issue they have with you (and they may make some up!). The goal here is ruthless: you attempted to hurt them, and they are going to make you pay for it.
You Will Feel the Guilt They Never Feel
Narcissists lack empathy and attention for others. They don’t understand how their actions impact other people. Subsequently, when they hurt you, they don’t truly realize that it hurts!
Even though seeking revenge may feel good for a moment, you may experience extreme guilt, shame, and self-loathing afterward. These feelings are good- they signify that you aren’t narcissistic or sociopath yourself! But it makes seeking revenge a relatively pointless endeavor.
They Will Still Act Like the Victim
If you do seek revenge (and it works), the narcissist won’t reflect on how they should change their behavior. Instead, the new story will be rooted in how awful and evil you are.
For example, let’s say you’re in a romantic relationship with a narcissist, and you leave them for someone else. This may undoubtedly hurt the narcissist, but they won’t reveal their pain. Instead, they’ll tell the world about how you couldn’t be trusted or how insensitive you are or how they always knew you were going to leave.
In other words, the narcissist remains protected. They do what they can to make you look like the bad guy. Unfortunately, their strategies often work.
What is The Worst Thing You Can Do to a Narcissist?
If you want to know how to hurt a narcissist, it’s helpful to remember that the worst thing is also the simplest thing. Of course, simple doesn’t mean easy, and many people find this advice extremely challenging.
We know that narcissists rely on validation and attention to get their needs met. They need people adoring over them to feel important. When you feel frustrated with the narcissist, it’s normal to want to “get back at them.”
However, the worst thing you can do is nothing. By nothing, that means you don’t acknowledge them. You don’t criticize or correct or try to change them. You don’t do anything at all.
Ignoring a narcissist may feel challenging. After all, they tend to be experts in exploring and manipulating people. They engage in so many tactics designed to trigger a reaction.
But ignoring their behavior basically shuts down any enabling. It sends a strong message that you don’t care about what they say or do. For a narcissist, your lack of caring is far more damaging than even hating the behavior. It’s what drives a narcissist insane.
Can You Outsmart a Narcissist?
Yes. Outsmarting a narcissist can happen when you decide to no longer play their games. When you’re no longer playing the same game, you don’t have to abide by their predetermined rules or shenanigans.
Outsmarting a narcissist often means:
- Knowing your own boundaries.
- Respecting and honoring your personal integrity.
- Refusing to enable narcissistic behavior by ignoring it.
- Considering a no-contact approach if you decide to end the relationship.
With that in mind, you probably cannot outsmart a narcissist if you continue engaging in your familiar dynamic. They won’t respond well to you arguing or intellectualizing their behavior. If you fight back, they tend to become more reactive and explosive.
If anything, these strategies simply add fuel to their chaotic intentions. Once they have you reacting, they can turn up the knob on their own obnoxious behavior.
Outsmarting a narcissist is not the same as revenge on a Narcissist, it means you choose to step aside. You don’t keep arguing back. You don’t keep hoping that they grow or change. Finally, you let go of expectations that the narcissist will recognize their behavior.
This insight can feel incredibly painful. However, it’s an important step towards moving forward in your recovery.
How to Get Revenge on a Narcissist With Low or No-Contact?
If you’re truly ready to walk away from the relationship, you may be ready for a low or no-contact approach. At first, these strategies may seem harsh. You might want to barter, rationalize, or even excuse the narcissist’s behavior.
But if nothing changes, nothing changes. You may still feel the same anger, frustration, and sadness.
Going Low Contact
Low contact means limiting your interactions and relationship effort. You will need to set firm boundaries about what you will and will not tolerate.
For example, you might decide that you won’t talk to the narcissist about your feelings. Instead, you will only engage in small talk about the weather or other mundane current events. You might also set limits on how often and where you interact with the narcissist.
It isn’t advised to tell the narcissist about these plans. If you do, they will likely pester you with questions or insults. They’ll try to justify their behavior and get you to change your mind.
Many people prefer taking the low contact approach when no contact seems too stressful. It may be best if you’re dealing with your child’s other parent, close family members, or coworkers, and bosses. Some people also start with a low contact approach first before progressing into the no contact approach.
Going No Contact
No contact means exactly what it sounds like. You avoid all contact with the other person. If they call you, you don’t answer. If they bombard you with a million emails or texts, you still don’t respond.
In other words, they basically stop existing. You just cut them out of your life altogether. This approach is the most extreme one you can take. However, it also tends to be the most effective if you want to move on with your life.
Final Thoughts on Getting Revenge on The Narcissist
Although it’s tempting to want to seek revenge on a narcissist, these emotional strategies rarely work. First, revenge rarely makes people feel good beyond just a few moments. Moreover, revenge doesn’t take away the pain you endured during the relationship. It doesn’t absolve the frustration, sadness, or confusion you feel.
Instead, focus on living your life. Focus on finding your happiness and your sense of success and love. That approach inadvertently offers the very best way to take revenge.
Vanessa Van Edwards. (2015, June 29). The Psychology of Revenge: Why It’s Secretly… Science of People; Science of People. https://www.scienceofpeople.com/the-psychology-of-revenge/
Written by Alexander Burgemeester on
Alexander Burgemeester has a Master in Neuropsychology. He studied at the University of Amsterdam and has a bachelor's in Clinical Psychology. He devotes himself to writing important information about certain mental health topics like Narcissism and Relationship problems. He is the main author of all content on Thenarcissisticlife.com Want to know more? Read by author bio page.
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