How Do Narcissists Manipulate So Well? Episode 18 of the “Ask a Question” Show

January 15, 2020 0 By Peter Engel

Hi everyone. My name is Dana and
this is episode 18 of the Ask a Question Show, the show in which you ask a question about
any type of narcissistic or otherwise abusive or toxic relationship or situation and I,
along with the rest of the community here, will do our very best to help answer it. Our
goal is to give you the feedback and the support that you need so that you can move forward
in getting the clarity, the closure and the healing that you so deserve. And so today’s
question comes from Jesse, and Jesse asks, “Dear Dana, how do narcissists manipulate?
I seem to keep getting caught up with these people and I don’t realize it until it’s too
late… Help!” OK Jesse. I hear you, I totally hear you loud and clear. I felt the exact
same way. I think there’s probably a lot of people out in our community here that are
in the same boat. So my two cents on it– so let me kind of recap. When we’re talking
about narcissists, for those people that are new to the channel, we’re not talking about
somebody who’s just selfish or self-absorbed, although that can be part of the problem,
but the larger issue is when you’re dealing with a person that we would call a narcissist,
is you’re dealing with a person who has a pattern of long-standing behavior where they
lack empathy, they lack remorse, they have a blinding degree of selfishness, a jaw-dropping
level of entitlement, and they exploit people. And so these are the more problematic behaviors
that we’re talking about. So the question really is so how do manipulative people manipulate?
And why are you not realizing it until it’s too late? So manipulative people manipulate,
I believe, in 6 different main ways. I will put the list down below in the description
area here. So this is my take on it all, there’s 6 main points, it’s an acronym I call ICHIVE
and it stands for Isolation, Charm, Hope, Intimidation, Violence, and Emotion. And so
the #1 tool for a manipulative and abusive people is isolation; they do this through
love-bombing, they do this through moving their victim out in the middle of nowhere,
they do this by cutting off ties or– either forcefully or implying that they should cut
off ties to either having a job or access to money somehow, or cutting off ties with
friends and family. So once they have– once they’ve been able to kind of isolate that
victim, then the victim is– the mind games really begin and it’s, you know, it’s all
of that crazy-making behavior where the victim can’t tell, is it me or is it him? Who has
the problem here? And, too, when I say him, narcissists can be male or female; they’re
any age, any gender, any sexual orientation, any role in our life. They can be significant
others, or they can be your neighbor or your parent or your child, and so on. So isolation
is a key one. The C in ICHIVE is charm. So the good ones, the highly manipulative people,
come across as very, very charming. They’re kind of the Bill Cosbys or the Scott Petersons
of the world and they are very convincing, they’re often times very likable and so when
they do have these– when their bad behavior does surface, like Bill Cosby, it’s really
hard for the rest of us to look at that and believe it, because it’s, you know, who on
earth would have believed that about Bill Cosby? And, you know, of course I think the
victims knew that and that was one of the reasons they didn’t come forward, because
it’s like, “Who’s going to believe me? He’s America’s dad, he’s this wonderful guy, and
I’m a budding actress and they’re just going to think I’m sleeping my way to the top,”
but of course, that’s what– that was intentional on his part, right? To target these kinds
of women that had these vulnerabilities about their situation so it would look that way
if he ever got discovered. So charm is a big one. H stands for hope. You know, again, another
big tool for abusive people is hope. Hope dies last and hope, in the sense of they do
this future-faking where they pretend that, you know, kind of, given enough time, given
enough love, given enough second chances or 20 second chances, or therapy or rehab or,
you know, what have you, if enough other things happened, then the victim and this abusive
person could eventually have this great life together. But there’s just these, like, huge
elephants in the room that they need to get worked out first, but, you know, give– once
those elephants leave, everything will be fun. But victims tend– and victims tend to
be very giving, very understanding– overly understanding, really, is what it is– people.
And so we tend to buy everything that they’re saying; we take these people at face-value.
A lot of times we don’t even realize that there are these kinds of really manipulative
people in the world. Again, we kind of go around thinking that the bad people are really
easy to spot and, you know, that the bad people, you know, again, look like bad people, they
act like bad people, they aren’t likable or funny or charming or whatever. Those– give
me bad people like that any day of the week, because you can spot them a mile away! Like,
those people aren’t manipulative. Those are pretty easy to see. That guy’s trouble, I’m
leaving, right? Again, it’s the charming, likable, convincing ones that are the wolves
in sheep’s clothing, the ones that are really, really dangerous. So hope. So victims, of
course, don’t realize that they’re with this person who is– that can be, possibly, likable,
but also be so destructive and so they hang on to this hope that they really can change
because they think their partner is with, you know, they think that their partner is
with a person who’s a normal, decent, human being that has the capacity and will eventually
have the desire to change and 9 out of 10 times– well I shouldn’t even say that. I
think in general, in order for a person to change, you have to have a sincere desire
to change, coupled with, you know, motivation to change and a lasting, you know, applied
effort in the direction of the change that you want to occur. If you don’t have any of
that, then you don’t have a person that has a sincere desire to change. Words are free
and easy, right? It’s easy to talk about all day long, “Oh yeah, I totally want to change,
totally want to go to therapy. We’re going to this, I’m, you know, I want to make things
really work and I will prove to you that I love you,” and they’re just words, words,
words, words, words, right? Because the actions aren’t consistent. They might go to therapy
twice, if you can even get them that far, which don’t even get me going on that. But–
or they can, you know, they’ll go to rehab for a week or they’ll make some sort of, like,
half-assed effort towards change but it doesn’t last because it was never sincere. So hope
dies last, that’s H. I is intimidation. These are threats; these can either be implied,
you know, explicit or implied. So explicit threats would be examples of, you know, I’m
going to kill you if you leave me. I’m going to hurt somebody you love. I’m going to the
pets. I’m going to have some sort of really– there’s going to be consequences if I don’t
get my way, basically. The victim might come out to their car, their tires are slashed,
you know, a rock might be through their window, you know, these kinds of things. And I guess
that can kind of also be more of an implicit-type threats, where whatever they’re doing can’t
be, like, tied directly to them or it might come across to other people as not as scary
as it’s coming across to the victim. So, like, you might get a note under your windshield
wiper on your car, right? And they might say something like, “Thinking of you.” Well, to
the police, to other friends and family, especially if they’re charming, that can come across
as, “Oh, I would love to have that kind of attention,” or, “You’re so lucky,” or, “Why
don’t you try to make it work, he’s obviously sorry.” And to the victim, the victim realizes,
“This guy’s bat-shit crazy and there’s nothing romantic about this at all,” and they’re terrified,
but then of course they feel crazy because nobody else sees it as the threat that it
really is, because basically by doing that, by putting a note under somebody’s windshield
wiper after you’ve had, kind of, you know, this scary roller coaster ride with them,
it lets the victim know, “Hey, I know exactly where you are. I have access to you and I’m
thinking about you.” So it’s very intimidating, it’s very serious, and so that’s different
types of threats. And of course, you know, threatening violence, they might be punching
holes in walls to give you the idea of, you know, you might be next– that kind of thing–
or saying, “If you divorce me, I’m going to go after your retirement,” or, “I’m going
to go after full custody,” you know, again, like just threats that keeps the victims in
this relationship. So V in the ICHIVE acronym stands for violence and, again, this can be
physical abuse, this can be sexual abuse, this is where it really escalates and the
person’s getting– and it starts off, physical violence, generally, it doesn’t just start
off with somebody getting hit. It starts with somebody getting spit on or slapped or bitten
or just kind of being roughly handled, you know, somebody grabbing your shirt or grabbing
your arm roughly or– and you’ll know when you’re going through this because all of a
sudden that behavior just kind of changes and you’re like, “Wow, they’ve never touched
me like that before and where did that come from?” And it’s scary. And of course, they’re
full of apologies and of course we believe them– that’s how this dance goes. Instead,
we should really walk away and have standards for how we expect to be treated and if somebody
violates those standards, to be OK with cutting biat and not looking back. So E, the last
one, is they manipulate through emotion, through a combination of using pity, guilt, or love.
There’s kind of that old saying out there, you know, “The most dangerous words an abusive
person can use are I love you,” and that’s so true, because, again, you have a victim
who is probably a normal, decent, kind human being and who’s overly understanding and so
this abuisve person is exploiting that and they’re saying things like, “Well I really
love you. I really want to make this work.” I’m going to just really put on this whole
production that’s going to convince you and your family and your friends and the neighbors
that I’m a really good guy and that you should give me a second chance. And I’m going to
also, maybe, throw in some guilt. So saying stuff like, “Well, you came from a divorced
household; you don’t want to do that to the kids, do you?” And, you know, or, “I can’t
believe you’re really leaving me. I love you so much and yes, I have issues, but I promise
this time I will go to therapy, I will find God, I will go to rehab, I will do whatever
you need me to do in order to stay in your life and let this continue,” is really what
they’re saying. Or pity, you know, “Well I’m an alcoholic, how can you leave me now? Don’t
leave me now. I have no one. I have no one– no one but you, nobody but you. I need you
to help me.” Or, “I came from a really bad childhood and I just don’t know these things.
You’re lucky, you didn’t have the childhood that I have,” and, you know, again, right?
And so then you have this, like, overly understanding person who, again, instead of saying, “I’m
really sorry,” because probably a lot of that’s true, “I’m really sorry that that’s why you
drink and hit and lie and cheat and steal, but, these are the standards I have for my
life,” and this is probably not a good idea to tell somebody else, but to tell yourself
that, you know, these are the standards that I have, this is what I am looking for in another
human being; this person is not it at all, this person is dangerous and destructive and
will only serve to cause me, you know, hurt and heartache in my life if I leave him in.
I need to walk away and cut bait and drive on. So and then, OK, that’s kind of how they
manipulate. You also asked the point of you don’t realize it until it’s too late. Well,
I’m going to say that you do realize it. On some level, you’re probably had your gut instinct,
your spidey sense, going off the whole time and in order to really keep these people out
of your life, you know, half of the equation is being able to spot, to realize that these
kinds of people really do exist in the world, and then being able to spot manipulative behavior
for what it is early on and so you have it on your radar of possibility, because I think
a lot of us, myself included, our radars just weren’t set to even scan for, you know, decent
people– for wolves in sheep’s clothing out there. So set your radar being wider to scan
for this and of course this is not to make your paranoid, but it is to make you have
a healthy level of skepticism, which is what we need in this world. And it’s not just,
“Oh, society’s going downhill”– no, it’s always been like this. So, you know, again,
set your radar being wide. Trust is earned, it’s not blindly given. The whole point of
dating is to really discern whether or not this person is healthy and stable and solid
and sincere and is what you are looking for for your life, right? So it’s not about being
in a relationship and, you know, being there for them. That’s fantastic and that’s a big
part of it, but in order for that to be healthy, for those qualities to be healthy, you have
to use logic and reason early on. And so that’s kind of where we are get this twisted around,
is we tend to base our decisions based off of emotion and then down the road we fight
our logic and reason; this is why we’re second-guessing ourselves, there’s so much confusion, there’s
so much doubt. We’re not listening to our logic and reason, and then until it gets bad
enough until it is too late and then we jump ship. So you’ve got to reverse the approach.
You know, use logic and reason when you’re first meeting somebody. Screen them like you’re–
it’s kind of like an interview process and finding out more information about who they
are and their morals and their values and their hopes and their dreams and their goals
and their, kind of, trajectory in life and probably a lot about their past is what you’re
going to want to find out, and see, really, who is this person and is this what you’re
looking for in your life. And it’s OK to say no, this person’s not what you’re looking
for and then to keep driving on. So I hope that clarified things. I will be curious to
see what the rest of the community here hast to say. You guys take care. If you have any,
as always, any questions, comments, concerns, frustrations, ideas, insights, you know, you
need some support, you just want to say ‘Hi, please let me know. Contact info is all down
below and that is it for episode 18. Talk to you guys soon and as always, lots of love
to you. You are not alone and you are not crazy. Please go with your gut instinct and
your common sense, it is there for a reason and you really can move forward and you can
heal from this, but having healthy expectations and healthy boundaries and healthy standards
is critical– there are no shortcuts around that, so please work on that and pour your
energy into building a fantastic life for yourself, because that’s the best revenge.
So take care, I’ll talk to you guys soon. Bye.